Total Eclipse

The early morning hours of October 8 promises North Americans a lunar spectacle. Beginning at 6:25 AM EST, and from 3:25-4:24 AM PST, the stunning sight of a low orbit behemoth full moon will pale in comparison to a full lunar eclipse. Anyone who witnessed the recent Harvest Moon appreciates the optical enormity of fall moons. Imagining an enormous moon transformed into an orb surrounded by red (in some places red and turquoise) light makes me swoon.

A lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes within the shadow of our planet. Sunlight refracted by our atmosphere creates the distinctive red “glow” , the intensity depends solely on current atmospheric conditions. Volcanic eruptions for instance can result in barely a hint of red light. Turquoise results from  light passing through the stratosphere and refracting off the ozone layer. The ozone layer absorbs red light, bouncing it back with bluish hues. According to NASA, conditions are perfect for turquoise – best seen with binoculars in the minutes just before, or just after totality.

This particular eclipse is worth losing a little sleep. Mark October 8 on your calender – get up early, go to bed late – you can nap or pack it in early the next day. I promise you – pondering a cosmic event will restore sanity in ways you never imagined.

Linked directly below – a worldwide eclipse visibility map courtesy NASA.

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/OH/OHfigures/OH2014-Fig03.pdf

http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/18sep_lunareclipse/

 

 

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