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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Full Lunar Eclipse - Feb. 20, 2008

On the night of February 20/21, 2008, viewers on the night side of the Earth will observe a total lunar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth, and enters its shadow. Observers in the Americas, Europe, and Africa will be posed for the best views.

The following table represents the predicted timetable for the lunar eclipse, as provided by Curt Renz, whose helpful astronomy website can be found at www.curtrenz.com/astronomical.html.

00:37 UT – Moon enters penumbra (gray fringe shadow)
01:43 UT – Moon enters umbra (dark inner shadow)
02:18 UT – 50% of Moon’s diameter covered by umbra
03:01 UT – Totality begins (magnitude 1.000)
03:26 UT – Maximum eclipse (magnitude 1.105)
03:51 UT – Totality ends (magnitude 1.000)
04:34 UT – 50% of Moon’s diameter covered by umbra (magnitude 0.500)
05:09 UT – Moon exits umbra (dark inner shadow)
06:16 UT – Moon exits penumbra (gray fringe shadow)

The times given in this table are Universal Time (UT), also known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), for the night of the 20/21. Therefore, these times are mostly in the very early morning of the 21st, just after midnight UT. To find your corresponding local time, subtract your time zone's offset from this number. So for example, Eastern time is GMT-5, so I would subtract 5 hours from each of the times listed here, so 00:37 UT becomes 7:37 PM EST. Central time is GMT-6, Mountain time is GMT-7, and Pacific time is GMT-8. Other time zone offsets are available here.

The moon will actually appear to turn a blood red color during maximum eclipse. This is an optical effect due to the refraction of sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere. Red light is bent most readily and is projected upon the face of the moon. Also notice Saturn's close proximity to the moon during the eclipse. I'll be setting up a composite shot of the eclipse with Youngstown's skyline, assuming skies are clear. This, however, is a slim chance in Northeast Ohio...

This is the last total lunar eclipse until two total eclipses on December 21, 2010, and June 15, 2011, so don't miss it!

Clear skies! (hopefully)...

EDIT: A composite image of the eclipse that I made from Youngstown, Ohio is available here.

Eclipse timetable courtesy of Curt Renz.


Anonymous said...

Yay! There was something in August but I missed it because it was behind a mountain. (gaah stupid mountain needs to move out of the way)

Hopefully there will be clear skies!

Unknown said...

This eclipse will have a slightly shorter totality than the August 28th event you mentioned, but it will definitely be a good show if the weather holds!


February 18, 2008 at 7:13 PM

Anonymous said...

I got a tripod for my digital camera for Christmas...just it time for the eclipse.


Anonymous said...

I posted some pictures on my webpage. No composite shots here. Just a canon s80 on full zoom and 15" exposure on a tripod with almost no ambient light. Enjoy :)


Unknown said...

Nice pics! They show the red color nicely! I should have at least previews of my images on here soon.

February 21, 2008 at 12:05 AM

Anonymous said...

I think that the lunar eclips that happened last night was absolutly amazing! I was so amazed. It was beautiful. I hope to more like this in lifetime. :)

Unknown said...

You're in luck then! There's another one in 2011!

February 21, 2008 at 7:54 PM

Anonymous said...

2011? I thought it was 2010?

Unknown said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, there will be one in both 2010 and 2011. Post will be edited accordingly.


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