Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
  Astronomy, Stellar, Planetary News  

Subscribe free to our newsletters via your

Total Lunar Eclipse Next Wednesday

The exact tint of the lunar eclipse--anything from bright orange to blood red is possible--depends on the unpredictable state of the atmosphere at the time of the eclipse.
by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 14, 2008
On Wednesday evening, February 20th, the full Moon over the Americas will turn a delightful shade of red and possibly turquoise, too. It's a total lunar eclipse-the last one until Dec. 2010. The Sun goes down. The Moon comes up. You go out and look at the sky. Observing the eclipse is that easy. Maximum eclipse, and maximum beauty, occurs at 10:26 pm EST (7:26 pm PST).

A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes through the shadow of Earth. You might expect the Moon to grow even more ashen than usual, but in fact it transforms into an orb of vivid red.

Why red? That is the color of Earth's shadow.

Consider the following: Most shadows we're familiar with are black or gray; step outside on a sunny day and look at your own. Earth's shadow is different because, unlike you, Earth has an atmosphere. The delicate layer of dusty air surrounding our planet reddens and redirects the light of the sun, filling the dark behind Earth with a sunset-red glow.

The exact tint--anything from bright orange to blood red is possible--depends on the unpredictable state of the atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. "Only the shadow knows," says astronomer Jack Horkheimer of the Miami Space Transit Planetarium.

Transiting the shadow's core takes about an hour. The first hints of red appear around 10 pm EST (7 pm PST), heralding a profusion of coppery hues that roll across the Moon's surface enveloping every crater, mountain and moon rock, only to fade away again after 11 pm EST (8 pm PST).

No special filter or telescope is required to see this spectacular event. It is a bright and leisurely display visible from cities and countryside alike.

While you're watching, be alert for another color: turquoise. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise bracketing the red of totality.

"The blue and turquoise shades at the edge of Earth's shadow were incredible," recalls amateur astronomer Eva Seidenfaden of Trier, Germany, who took the picture at right during the European lunar eclipse of March 3-4, 2007. Dozens of other photographers have documented the same phenomenon.

The source of the turquoise is ozone. Eclipse researcher Dr. Richard Keen of the University of Colorado explains: "During a lunar eclipse, most of the light illuminating the moon passes through the stratosphere where it is reddened by scattering.

However, light passing through the upper stratosphere penetrates the ozone layer, which absorbs red light and actually makes the passing light ray bluer." This can be seen, he says, as a soft blue fringe around the red core of Earth's shadow.

To catch the turquoise on Feb. 20th, he advises, "look during the first and last minutes of totality." That would be around 10:01 pm EST and 10:51 pm EST (7:01 and 7:51 pm PST).

Blood red, bright orange, gentle turquoise: it's all good. Mark your calendar in vivid color for the Feb. 20th lunar eclipse.

Related Links
Lunar Eclipse International maps and timetables
Solar and Lunar Eclipses at Skynightly

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Path Of Totality: The Movie
Washington DC (SPX) Sep 24, 2007
On March 29, 2006, a NASA-led science expedition traveled to Tripoli and then the Sahara desert to witness and study -- first hand -- a total solar eclipse. This international expedition was an unprecedented collaboration with Libyan scientists and researchers from across the globe.

  • Astronomers Eye Ultra-Young, Bright Galaxy In Early Universe
  • Light Echoes Whisper The Distance To A Star
  • Spitzer Catches Young Stars In Their Baby Blanket Of Dust
  • Racing Ahead At The Speed Of Light

  • Life On Frosted Earths
  • Weird Object May Be Result Of Colliding Protoplanets
  • Two Unusual Older Stars Giving Birth To Second Wave Of Planets
  • Search For New Planets Part Of Ambitious New Sky Survey

  • The Poincare Dodecahedral Space Model Gains Support To Explain The Shape Of Space
  • Syracuse Supercomputer Will Help Scientists Listen For A Symphony Of Black Holes
  • An End To A Dark Mystery That Will Simplify The Universe
  • Nowhere To Hide As New Ultra-Powerful Microscope Probes Atomic World

  • Life From The Abyss
  • Cosmic Cockroaches Develop Faster
  • Life On The Borderline
  • SETI Project Looking For More Volunteers

  • NASA's Deep Impact Begins Hunt For Alien Worlds
  • NASA Comet Dust Lands In Manchester
  • NASA Scientists Get First Images Of Earth Flyby Asteroid
  • Scientists Get First Images Of Earth Flyby Asteroid 2007 TU24

  • GLAST's Delta II Rocket's First Stage Arrives In Cape Canaveral
  • International Team Establishes Unique Observatory In Antarctica
  • Herschel Telescope Flight Model At ESTEC
  • Linked Hawaiian Telescopes Catch A Nova Surprise

  • NASA and Internet Archive Team To Digitize Space Imagery
  • Hubble Photographs Grand Design Spiral Galaxy M81
  • Space Artist Draws From Experience
  • The Seven Sisters Pose For Spitzer

  • Still Grinding After All These Years Makes For Much Opportunity
  • NASA Budget Request Strong On Earth Weak On Mars
  • ESA Presents Mars In 3D
  • Mars In Their Sights

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement