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!


October 8 total lunar eclipse

Photo: Lunar Eclipse Composite by Jay Reynolds
Lunar Eclipse Composite by Jay Reynolds

The sky was clear and the early morning weather chilly for the beautiful total lunar eclipse of October 8, 2014.

Cuyahoga Astronomical Association (CAA) members watched the event from around the Northeast Ohio Area and in one case, from another state while on vacation. The Mapleside Farms parking lot in Brunswick was a popular gathering place. The restaurant and fruit market is perched on the eastern rim of the expansive Columbia River valley affording the most distant horizon, most open sky locally available; the eclipse reached totality with the Moon low in the west – near moonset/sunrise – so visibility low to the horizon was important!

CAA President Bill Murmann reported two club members, true early-birds, arrived at the lot at 3:30 AM! As the eclipse progressed others, including Murmann, arrived.

Photo: Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford
Umbral Shadow Crossing Moon by James Guilford

He wrote, “There were about 20 to 25 cars in the parking lot, including two police cars. The police were also there to see the eclipse and enjoyed the view through {a} telescope. Other folks seemed to be mostly photography buffs and naked-eye observers.”

The eclipse’s darkening of the sky afforded views that might otherwise have been missed. “Winter constellations were overhead, including Orion and the Pleiades, etc.,” Murmann wrote. “As the the Earth’s shadow gradually covered the full Moon, several faint stars and Uranus became visible around the Moon. Uranus was at about 10 o’clock, while the stars 96 Piscium and HIP 3869 were at 2 and 5-o-clock, respectively.”

Skywatchers now await a partial solar eclipse — an event naturally paired with lunar eclipses — hoping for clear skies the afternoon and evening of October 23. After all, why not have a second show when everything’s already lined up?

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


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