Sat 4 April – Total Eclipse of the Moon

Of eclipses twice have I written lately. HERE and HERE

The first post was about the lunar cycle called a “tetrad”. The second was about the lunar eclipse visible in Jerusalem at the time Christ died, and the resulting solar eclipse as viewed from the Moon.

It is going to be short, so don’t dawdle.

Here is some information about tomorrow’s full lunar eclipse from SpaceWeather.

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON: On Saturday morning, April 4th, the shadow of the Earth will fall across the Moon, turning the lunar disk a beautiful shade of celestial red. The total eclipse will be visible from the Americas, the Pacific Ocean, Australia, New Zealand and eastern parts of Asia.

Some total eclipses last for more than an hour. In this case, however, totality spans just 4 minutes and 43 seconds—a result of the fact that the Moon is skimming the outskirts of Earth’s shadow rather than passing centrally through it. The brevity of the eclipse highlights the importance of watching the clock: Be outside no later than 4:58 AM PDT (11:58 UT) to witness the red Moon.

Why red?

A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet looks like it is on fire. As you scan your eye around Earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb when viewed from Earth.

Red is not the only color, however. Sometimes observers spot a subtle band of turquoise.

This is the “ozone fringe.” Atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado explains: “Most of the light illuminating the Moon passes through the stratosphere, and 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 turquoise border around the red. Be alert for both colors on Saturday morning!

There’s some great animation over there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    Gr. Once again a celestial event and Long Island is raining.

  2. Marc M says:

    I thought we destroyed the ozone layer? /snark

    Seriously though. When I was growing up it was the undisputed science. There would be no ozone left by the year 2000. Also we were entering a new ice age and the planet was cooling. Also there would be no whales left. And no rainforests.

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