Sunday, 17 February 2008

Eclipse to Darken Wednesday's Moon

The Riparian Preserve's observatory will be open Wednesday night for a lunar eclipse. The viewing will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at the preserve, at Greenfield and Guadalupe roads, with the best viewing time between 8 and 9 p.m.

"The moon turns to blood in a sense," said Claude Haynes, president of the East Valley Astronomy Club, who will be present at the viewing, along with other club members. "The sunlight angles through the earth's atmosphere causing a reddish-orange color to form. It's almost like a sunset."

The moon will be full, Saturn will be closer to the moon, and the Earth will cast shadows on the moon, and there will be less conflicting or reflected light, causing it to be darker, Haynes said. The lunar eclipse should be viewable in the Western United States, Haynes said. "Anyplace you happen to be, you can see it where you are, that part is rare," Haynes said. "Next year, it could only be viewable in the summer in China. "The next lunar eclipse for the western United States will be in 2010.

"It's an interesting thing to see," Haynes said. "It's unusual, even for a young child. They will see a curved shadow, proving that the earth is round. It could be a very educational experience for children and a great way to teach them about the stars and the heavens." Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, and there is a $3 suggested donation for attendees. Telescopes will be set up outside for public viewing, in addition to the main telescope in the observatory. "It's a really good one," said Scott Anderson, Director for the Riparian Institute about the eclipse. "This one will be complete and pretty noticeable."

Anderson expects there will be a good turnout. "A lot of people will show up out of curiosity." he said.

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