Jason Shilling Kendall: Citizen Astronomer

William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

Total Lunar Eclipse

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

an interview on The Weather Channel's, "Wake Up With Al Roker"


Total Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday, October 8.

Event lasts ~0500 Eastern Time to ~0830 Eastern time, with the deepest shadow from about 0630 to 0730 Eastern time. However, the most dramatic effects are when the Moon is passing into and out of the shadow. For most everyone in the US, the "going in" (ingress) will be more dramatic than the "going out" (egress).

What to expect:

As the Moon orbits the Earth, it occasionally goes into the Earth's shadow. You'll see the round shadow slowly and dramatically pass across from the face of the Moon. Then, for people out West, the Full Moon will appear to be quite dim, and possibly a ruddy red. For those out West, stars will appear which will be easily visible right next to the Moon. Then, after about an hour, the Moon will emerge from the Earth's shadow as it continues its monthly trek around the Earth. It's easy to see the Moon move with respect to the stars, showing the movement of our heavenly neighbor.

Locations:

  • For viewers in NYC and Boston, and all up and down the Eastern seaboard, including Miami:

    Won't get to see the whole eclipse, just the very beginning. as the moon sets at 6:30. However, as it's setting, you'll be seeing the Moon fully in the Earth's shadow. It'll be visible and dramatic, but short-lived.

  • Chicago, Minneapolis New Orleans and Mobile:

    will get to see more of the eclipse with better views, since the Moon will not be as low as in the East. The Moon sets at about 0730, and it'll be harder to see.

  • In Dallas and up and down the Great Plains, including Denver area:

    they'll get to see the whole of the totality, and the Moon will be emerging from the Earth's deepest shadow (the Umbra) as it sets.

  • Los Angeles, and up into Washington State

    Great viewing of the entire event, with stars in the sky, and hopefully a good view of Uranus right next to it.

  • Honolulu and Anchorage

    will have the best views of the entire event with the Moon high in the sky, filling the night sky with wonder.

NASA info: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OHfigures/OH2014-Fig03.pdf

Safety:

It is 100% safe to look at a Lunar eclipse. The Moon doesn't emit its own light, just reflects the Sun. So, as the shadow of the Earth passes across it, it'll look red and stars will come out for those on the West Coast, the Mountain states and Hawaii. Safety is only a concern with Solar Eclipses, since in that case you're looking directly at the Sun. Here, it's just the reflected light, as normal, and it just gets dimmer.

Equipment:

The event dos not need any equipment at all. Best way to see it is to just go outside and look due West. The most dramatic moments will be as it's passing into the deepest shadow (from about 0515 to 0615 you'll see the Earth's shadow (called the Umbra) passing across the Moon. At about 0630, the stars will seem to pop back out, as they can, given the nearness of sunrise for the East Coast. Midwest, Mountain and West Coast will see more as you move West.

Special events: See the planet Uranus with a telescope:

From 0630 to 0730 EST, the planet Uranus will be to the left of the Moon. Uranus will be very close to the Moon, just one Moon width away. People on the West Coast and mountains will be in the best position to try to look for it. Best seen in a telescope with a 6"-8" diameter and a wide field. Unfortunately, with the Moon next to it, and it being low in the sky, you can't see it without a telescope.

Fast Facts:

  1. This doesn't happen every month because the Moon's orbit around the Earth is tilted compared to Earth's orbit around the Sun.
  2. The redness of the Moon is determined by the amount of dust and clouds in the Earth's atmosphere.
  3. Not everyone on Earth can see this. The Moon has to be up!
  4. This is how the ancient Greeks learned that the Earth was round over 2000 years ago, with no telescopes.
  5. There will be a tough-to-see partial solar eclipse at Sunset October 23, which many people across Alaska, up and down the Western states and Midwest US will be able to see it.
  6. NASA maintains the best site for all eclipse information: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html
  7. Good simulations can be grabbed from screenshots using the free planetarium software "Stellarium" www.stellarium.org.

Jason Kendall Adjunct, Dept. of Physics Astronomy Liaison, WPU


William Paterson University Department of Physics American Astronomical Society Amateur Astronomers Association of New York Astronomical Society of the Pacific