Saturday’s Lunar Eclipse

(image credit: Phil Plait)

This previous Saturday a Lunar Eclipse occurred in the early hours of the morning; the Moon passed into the Earth’s shadow and plunged into the ruddy darkness.  During the time period between 0445 hours and 0606 hours Pacific time, the Moon had completely slipped behind the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow.  The deepest eclipse was approximately 25 minutes after the Moon had completely moved into the shadow of the Earth.

For those of you with a flat, clear horizon, you may have had the opportunity to witness the eclipse of both the Sun and the Moon.  Normally such an event is not possible because by definition an eclipse occurs when the Moon and the Sun are directly opposite each other.  However, due to a quirk in geometry and atmospheric physics, such an event is possible.  (The following information I learned from a Bad Astronomy blog post) The Earth’s air is able to bend the light of objects at the horizon because it acts as a lens.  Because of this effect, you can see the moon for a couple of minutes after it has physically set; “its light is bent ‘around the corner’, so to speak, so both it and the Sun will be over the horizon for a short amount of time.”

Here is the link to a time-lapse video shot in Santa Fe, New Mexico of the Lunar Eclipse over Los Alamos, New Mexico: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOExlVNN2yY.  What an amazing sight to see.

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