January 20 – 21: Total Lunar Eclipse

Photo: Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008
Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008. – Images and Composite by Lynn Paul

Exciting News: A total lunar eclipse will take place January 20 – 21 and our area will be able to view the entire event, IF we are fortunate enough to have clear skies!

On the night of January 20, 2019 Earth’s shadow will cross the face of its Moon and viewers across North America will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. We, in Northeastern Ohio, are in luck this time as the entire eclipse will be visible to us given clear enough skies, of course.

Image: January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing - Credit: TimeAndDate.com
January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing – Credit: TimeAndDate.com

As the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:36 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually dimming, entering the lighter outer portion of Earth’s shadow. At 10:33 the partial eclipse begins and the disk of the Moon will show a dark, curved area expanding across its area. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will continue to darken until begin to glow a copper-red until at totality, 11:41 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky as totality begins — the time the Moon is fully within the darkest portion of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. Maximum eclipse is reached at 12:12 AM (Jan. 21) and totality ends at 12:43 AM.

As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for more information from TimeAndDate.com.

NOTES: A telescope is not necessary for your enjoyment of this wondrous natural phenomenon, just go outside and look up! Binoculars or a small telescope may give a more detailed view but are not required. A lunar eclipse is completely safe to watch — it’s moonlight — so you need no special glasses or vision protection.

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It’s Happening August 21: Edgewater Eclipse Watch

The Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA), in cooperation with Cleveland Metroparks, will host an Eclipse Watch event at Edgewater Park, on Cleveland’s western Lake Erie shore, from 12:30 to 4:00 PM, Monday, August 21. The event will be free and open to the public, no reservations required, to observe the day’s solar eclipse. In case of rain, the event will be canceled.

Image: Eclipse at Maximum - Edgewater Park, Ohio, August 21, 2017 - SkySafari 5 Simulation
Eclipse at Maximum – Edgewater Park, Ohio, August 21, 2017 – SkySafari 5 Simulation

The Edgewater Eclipse Watch will include:

  • Telescopes equipped to safely view the eclipse, tended by CAA members
  • Eclipse viewing glasses provided by AstroZap, one per group, please!)
  • Non-profit organizations, including Cleveland Metroparks, with family activities.
  • Additional activities to be announced!

The venue for the Edgewater Eclipse Watch will be at the west end of Edgewater Park’s lower level parking lot (see map below). Telescopes and other activities will be in the grassy area adjacent to the parking lot. Visitors may come and go as they please during the event.

Image: Here is where the Eclipse Watch will take place.
Here is where the Eclipse Watch will take place. Click to visit Google Maps for a more complete map and directions.
Image: Timing of Our Partial Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017 - Via SkySafari 5
Timing of Our Partial Solar Eclipse, August 21, 2017 – Via SkySafari 5

Millions of people will enjoy this eclipse of the Sun, some portion of which will be visible from everywhere in the continental United States; it’s even been dubbed “The Great American Eclipse” and “The National Eclipse.” Locations along a relatively narrow strip of land stretching from Oregon and the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic off South Carolina will enjoy the full glory of a total solar eclipse. Here in Northeastern Ohio, we will see a deep partial eclipse with, at its peak, the Sun reduced to a brilliant crescent in our early afternoon sky.

CRITICAL: Vision safety is a major concern: It is important to note: even during the maximum point of our partial eclipse it is not safe to look at the Sun without proper vision protection. According to a statement from NASA, “The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as ‘eclipse glasses’ or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun.Here’s a quick video about how to safely view the eclipse via WKYC and our own Jay Reynolds.

A solar eclipse takes place when our Moon comes between Sun and Earth casting its shadow on Earth’s surface. The illustration below shows how the depth of Moon’s shadow varies depending upon how much of Sun is covered. The small black dot indicates the area where all of the solar disk is covered and where a total solar eclipse is in progress; outside of that dot, a large shaded area shows where various levels of partial coverage — the partial eclipse — is visible.

Image: Diagram of the Solar Eclipse - Image Credit: NASA
Diagram of the Solar Eclipse – Image Credit: NASA

This video from NASA shows how eclipses work and why they don’t happen every month. Spoiler: Moon’s shadow “misses” the Earth most of the time…

USPS Commemorative eclipse stamps transform at a touch

Image: Eclipse Stamps Transform at a Touch - Credit: USPS
Eclipse Stamps Transform at a Touch – Credit: USPS

On August 21, 2017, tens of millions of people in the United States will have an opportunity to view a total eclipse of the Sun. A total solar eclipse was last seen on the U.S. mainland in 1979, but only in the Northwest. The eclipse this summer will sweep a narrow path across the entire country—the first time this has happened since 1918. The U.S. Postal Service® anticipates this rare event with a stamp celebrating the majesty of solar eclipses.

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is the first U.S. stamp to use thermochromic ink, which reacts to the heat of your touch. Placing your finger over the black disc on the stamp causes the ink to change from black to clear to reveal an underlying image of the moon. The image reverts back to the black disc once it cools. The back of the stamp pane shows a map of the eclipse path.You can preserve the integrity of your Total Eclipse of the Sun Forever® stamp pane with our protective sleeve specifically designed for stamp preservation.

The stamp uses a photograph taken by astrophysicist Fred Espenak of a total solar eclipse that was seen over Jalu, Libya, on March 29, 2006. Mr. Espenak also took the photograph of the full moon that is revealed by pressing upon the stamp image. The reverse side of the stamp pane shows the path across the United States of the forthcoming August 21, 2017, total solar eclipse and gives the times that it will appear in some locations.

A total eclipse of the Sun occurs when the Moon completely blocks the visible solar disk from view, casting a shadow on Earth. The 70-mile-wide shadow path of the eclipse, known as the “path of totality,” will traverse the country diagonally, appearing first in Oregon (mid-morning local time) and exiting some 90 minutes later off the coast of South Carolina (mid-afternoon local time).

A total solar eclipse provides us with the only chance to see the Sun’s corona—its extended outer atmosphere—without specialized instruments. The corona during an eclipse looks like a gossamer white halo around a black disk, or like the petals of a flower reaching out into space.

Art director Antonio Alcalá designed the stamp. 

The Total Eclipse of the Sun stamp is being issued as a Forever ® stamp. This Forever® stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.

Source: United States Postal Service

Too cloudy to see the total lunar eclipse? Try a webcast!

If local conditions don’t allow viewing tonight’s total lunar eclipse or if you just can’t get out, try one of the several live webcasts. Seeing the eclipse would be much better “in person,” but watching via computer or TV is better than nothing!

NASA TV — both a webcast and a cable TV service, the space agency’s coverage begins at 8:00 EDT through 11:30 PM. See it: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc or directly from Griffith Observatory at: http://livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV

Slooh, the remote telescope company, offers their own 9:00 PM webcast at: http://live.slooh.com/?utm_campaign=space&utm_medium=textlink&utm_source=launch which will also be carried by Space.com at: http://www.space.com/19195-night-sky-planets-asteroids-webcasts.html

The venerable “Sky & Telescope” magazine hosts a program beginning at 9:00 here: http://livestream.com/SkyandTelescope/Sept27eclipse

And the University of Arizona will stream their coverage live at: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/css/eclipse/

Coming September 27: a marvelous total lunar eclipse

Photo: Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008
Total Lunar Eclipse Sequence, February 2008

On the night of September 27, 2015 Earth’s shadow will cross the face of its Moon and viewers across North America will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. We, in Northeastern Ohio, are in luck this time as the entire eclipse will be visible to us and in “prime time” — a marvelous and relatively rare situation!

As the partial phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:07 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually covered by the dark portion of Earth’s shadow. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will begin to glow a copper-red until at totality, 10:11 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky. As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for a detailed, somewhat technical chart.

Though they are useful, eclipse watchers don’t need telescopes to enjoy the transition and wonder of a total lunar eclipse; if you can see the Moon, you can see the eclipse, and it’s perfectly safe to watch … it’s only moonlight, after all! Click here for a very good article by our friends at Sky & Telescope Magazine on how to watch a lunar eclipse.

Don’t be confused by Universal Time (UT) timings which will also say the eclipse takes place September 28! This chart (below) provides events and timings for Sunday night’s, September 27 eclipse correct for Eastern Daylight Time.

Table: Local Event Timings for Total Lunar Eclipse of September 27, 2015
Local Event Timings for Total Lunar Eclipse of September 27, 2015
Sadly, the CAA will not be hosting a public eclipse watch event. CAA’s plans for a public Lunar Eclipse event were disrupted due to fees imposed at our intended venue.

BTW… we don’t use the weird “blood moon” moniker for total lunar eclipses; those natural events are far too wonderful and beautiful for us to use terms meant to elicit primal fear!

 

Our (very) partial eclipse

Photo: Partial Eclipse at Sunset, May 20, 2012. By Dianna Lewis.
Partial eclipse at sunset from Cahoon Park, Bay Village. Photo by Dianna Lewis.

Sites along the US West Coast enjoyed a beautiful annular eclipse on Sunday, May 20, as did observers in China. We did not see much of an eclipse from Northeastern Ohio. We were, however, treated to some beautiful sunset views! Late-day clouds threatened to block the event entirely from view but, in some cases, contributed to the aesthetic.

Photo: Observers setting up to see partial eclipse of the Sun. Photo by Tim Campbell.
Observers setting up at Edgewater to see partial eclipse of the Sun. Photo by Tim Campbell.

A group of CAA members gathered at Cleveland’s Edgewater Park for a view of the sunset event over water — as distant an horizon as we can get here. Others viewed and photographed the partial eclipse individually from other locations.

Photo: Cloudy sunset during partial eclipse. Photo by Christopher Christe.
Cloudy sunset during partial eclipse. Photo by Christopher Christe.

Yes, we’ll see no eclipse :-(

NASA Night Sky Network Lunar Eclipse Image
A glorious lunar eclipse during totality.

POST-ECLIPSE UPDATE: Others from the Western US and other parts of the world were treated to a marvelous eclipse. See a growing gallery of images at SpaceWeather.com.

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On the morning of Saturday, December 10, 2011 there will be a total lunar eclipse. While much of North America will be in a position to see this natural wonder, those of us east of the Mississippi are pretty much completely out of luck! Timing is everything in this case.

Those who have seen total lunar eclipses know that they are wonderful astronomical experiences. They occur when the Moon passes through the shadow Earth casts out into space, away from the Sun. The colors of Earth’s sunrises and sunsets act as filters giving the darkened Moon hues ranging from copper tones to deep red. Lunar eclipses are safe to view (never any brighter than the full Moon), don’t require telescopes or special optics to enjoy, and are visible over a wide area.

Total lunar eclipses can only happen when the Moon is in its Full phase –on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun– which often results in local observers seeing only part of the event. Locally we might see the beginning or end of an eclipse, or be totally out of luck because the Moon has set and the Sun has risen. On rare occasions at a given locale, the entire eclipse cycle, covering a period of several hours, can be seen; those eclipses take place in the mid-night hours rather than just before Sun- or Moonrise.

For those of us in Northeastern Ohio, the December 10 eclipse will barely have begun when the Moon sets just as the Sun rises. The thin shade of Earth’s outer shadow or penumbra will only just have begun to cover our Moon as it sets slowly in the west. Those on the West Coast will be able to enjoy more of the show, being a few hours behind our time.

In today’s world of Internet-connected telescopes and Web broadcasts there will be opportunities for remote eclipse watching. Learn more and possibly watch a “webcast” at the following URLs:

NASA’s Night Sky Network

NASA’s Eclipse Chart for December 10, 2011 (PDF)

Farmer’s Almanac