Total lunar eclipse late Monday night
April 14, 2014
During the early morning hours of Tuesday the 15th of April while many Utahans will be struggling with their tax returns, Mother Nature will be providing all Utahans a celestial treat, a total eclipse of the Moon.
According to NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, "The eclipse will start about 2 minutes before midnight the night of Monday the 14th as the full Moon slowly starts to creep into the shadow of the Earth."
Totality, with the Moon completely engulfed by the Earth’s shadow, will then run from 1:07 to 2:24 the morning of the 15th. During totality the Moon may disappear completely. Or a tiny amount of light might leak around the Earth causing the Moon to take on a ghostly yellow, copper or blood red color.
Wiggins cautions that any color visible during totality will be faint and best viewed from country locations, away from light polluted urban areas.
Totality will be followed by the Moon slowly wriggling its way free of Earth’s shadow for another hour or so, finally breaking free of the shadow at 3:33 am.
Wiggins notes that while Utahans have had to wait some 29 months since the last total eclipse of the Moon they wont have to wait nearly that long for the next one or, for that matter, the two after that. "We’ll have another in October of this year, followed by two more next year."
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This grouping of four total eclipses of the Moon is known to science as a tetrad. But Wiggins jokes most will probably just call it "fun."
Unlike eclipses of the Sun which require special equipment to view safely, eclipses of the Moon require no special equipment. Just the naked eye will do though sometimes binoculars will help enhance the view.
Eclipses of the Moon occur when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, while eclipses of the Sun are caused by the Earth passing into the shadow of the Moon.
For a list of all eclipses visible from Utah through 2025, visit Wiggins’ Solar System Ambassador web site at http://utahastro.info .