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