Sunday, August 26, 2007

from the Planetarium-- a moon eclipse for insomniacs

News Alert

The second total lunar eclipse of 2007 happens in the hours just before sunrise early on Tuesday morning. For most North Americans, the event takes place with the Moon sinking low in the southwest sky before or during dawn.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon form a nearly straight line in space, so that the full Moon passes through Earth's shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special equipment to observe safely, you can watch a lunar eclipse with your unaided eyes. Binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view

As the Moon begins to move into the central and darkest part of Earth's shadow, called the the umbra, at 4:51 a.m. local time, there will be an obvious and ever-larger "bite" appearing on the upper-left part of the full Moon. The partial eclipse will then be under way.

Here in Greater New York area the Moon will be quite low to the southwest horizon when it begins to enter the Earth's umbra. The sky will become quite bright before totality even starts at 5:52 a.m., so we'll see the Moon approach the horizon, ultimately becoming lost in the light of dawn probably before it finally becomes immersed in the Earth's shadow.

The previous total lunar eclipse, last March 3rd, favored eastern North America and Europe. The next one, on February 20, 2008, will be situated high in the sky to give virtually everyone in the Americas a good view of it.

Lastly . . . there will be a full webcast of the eclipse as seen from Las Vegas, Nevada. This is streaming video with audio and chatroom. Go to:

Just click on "view the webcast"

-- Joe Rao