Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Enjoy the total eclipse of the moon!
On Wednesday evening the bright full moon moves into the Earth's shadow becoming completely eclipsed. The show begins at 8:43 p.m. EST as the moon slides into darkness. By 10:01 it moves entirely into our planet's shadow and the stars come out. To the moon's lower left is the ringed planet, Saturn while above it shines Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo.
How dark will the moon appear? What color will it appear? Usually, it is not so dark that it can't be seen and its color is a dark coppery red. But none of this is definite!
Use binoculars to view a dim star near the moon's lower left edge. As the minutes pass, the moon moves closer to it, finally occulting it at 10:27. The star pops out the other side at about 11:17. By then totality is long over and the star may be difficult to spot in the increasing moonlight.
Totality ends at 10:52 p.m. A thin sliver of light spills from the dark disk's lower edge. Our sky grows brighter, quickly blotting out the dimmer stars. By 12:09 a.m. the partial phase ends as the moon moves completely out of the Earth's shadow. This is the same shadow that causes our "night." We happen to stand in the first few feet of our planet's shadow.
Such is our view from Earth...