Thursday, December 8, 2011

Last Total Lunar Eclipse Until 2014 On Saturday Morning

The last Total Lunar Eclipse until 2014 will occur this Saturday morning, favoring viewers all along the Pacific Rim, including the Western U.S. However, those of us on the East Coast will not be able to see this eclipse because our moonset time is before the eclipse begins. The first hints of the "red shadow" will not be visible until 7:45 AM EST.
(Click here to see a map of where the eclipse will be visible in the World).
In Richmond, the moon sets Saturday morning at 7:12 AM, about the time the Sun rises at 7:13 AM. So even if we could see some of that initial shadow being cast by the Earth onto the Moon, it will be nearly impossible to see because of the Dawn.

On the West Coast, though, the Moon will enter "totality" of the eclipse at 6:05 AM PST (which is 9:05 AM EST, well after we can't see the Moon anymore on the East Coast). West Coasters will see a pre-sunrise eclipse of beautiful proportions. Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado predicts, "I expect this eclipse to be bright orange, or even copper-colored, with a possible hint of turquoise at the edge." The reason why these colors hue the Moon from our perspective here on Earth is because of our own stratosphere. As the Moon's light is scattered through the Earth's atmosphere back to our eyes, the light waves that "survive" the scattering are reddish.

Watch this NASA video to learn more:

Because we will miss watching the eclipse on the East Coast, you can click here to watch this animation demonstrating what it will look like to our western neighbors.

--Meteorologist Carrie Rose

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