Tags:Astronomers at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute announce that on the morning of December 10 there will be a total lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, for those of us in the Carolinas, it starts too late.
What causes an eclipse of the Moon, also called a lunar eclipse? As the Moon orbits the Earth, it comes to Full Moon once every 29½ days. Most months when this happens the Moon passes above or below the Earth’s shadow and we don’t have an eclipse. But twice per year (some years, three times), roughly six months apart, the Moon can pass through the Earth’s shadow and we have an eclipse.
This is what is happening in the wee hours of December 10. Here are the circumstances that morning:
6:31 am EST Moon starts to enter the penumbra of the Earth’s shadow. This is extremely subtle and not really noticeable.
7:27 am EST Moonset in Brevard, NC
7:28 am EST Sunrise in Brevard, NC
While technically the eclipse does begin here before moonset and before sunrise, the eclipse won't have progressed enough before the disk of the moon disappears below the horizon. However, if by any chance you are out west in the Pacific Time Zone, here is a timeline for observing this beautiful celestial phenomenon:
4:45 am PST Moon starts to enter the umbra of the Earth’s shadow.
6:05 am PST Moon is entirely in the umbra; totality begins.
6:48 am PST Sunrise in Los Angeles, CA.
6:52 am PST Moonset in Los Angeles, CA.
To see the entire eclipse you would have to go west to the mid-Pacific or beyond, i.e., Australia/New Zealand, the East Indies, China, East Asia. The next total lunar eclipse visible from all of North America is not until April 2014.
About PARI: PARI is a not-for-profit public foundation established in 1998. Located in the Pisgah National Forest southwest of Asheville, NC, PARI offers educational programs at all levels, from K-12 through post-graduate research. For more information about PARI and its programs, visit www.pari.edu.