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Lunar Eclipse Viewing at UCI Observatory
By: Barbara Toy
November 6, 2003 9:47PM PDT
Views: 7566

We're in the path of a total lunar eclipse on Saturday, November 8. Join our outreach volunteers and volunteers from the UCI Astronomy Club at the UCI Observatory to view this eclipse! (Picture by Larry McManus - though not truly showing the moon in eclipse)

Viewing is from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  The directions to reach the UCI Observatory are:  Take the 405 to Jamboree Road, go south (toward the ocean) on Jamboree.  Turn left on Campus Drive.  Turn right on East Peltason Drive, going into UCI.  From East Peltason Drive turn left onto Gabrielino Drive at the "University Hills" sign. Follow Gabrielino all the way to the top of the hill.  Go through the gate on the left and down the dirt road to the observatory.

Griffith Observatory provided the following information about this eclipse in a press release:

Total Eclipse of the Moon
Saturday, November 8, 2003

A total eclipse of the full moon happens on Saturday evening, November 8th, when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align. Anyone in North America will be able to see the eclipse, weather permitting. It happens shortly after moonrise for California observers, which is also shortly after sunset.

An eclipse of the moon happens when the Moon moves through the shadow of the Earth and grows dark for a few hours. This eclipse is total, and the Moon will darken substantially. Because the Moon rises while eclipsed, we will not see the moon rise that evening. We will not see the Moon until the later stages of the eclipse.

This eclipse is already in progress when the Moon rises. As seen from Los Angeles, the Moon rises 12 degrees north of due east at 4:51 p.m., PST (which is also the time of sunset). At that time, the Moon is almost entirely within the umbra, the dark inner part of the earth's shadow. The eclipsed Moon will not be visible in such a bright sky. The Moon moves deeper into the Earth's shadow as it rises higher, and it is totally within the Earth's umbra from 5:06 to 5:30 p.m. During those 24 minutes the Moon probably will not be seen because it will be low and totally eclipsed, and the sky will still be bright.

People should first see the Moon a few minutes after 5:30 p.m. when it begins to move out of the inner, dark part of the Earth's shadow. At 5:30 p.m. the Moon is only 7 degrees high as seen from Los Angeles, so an unobstructed eastern horizon is essential (and binoculars would be useful). The eastern, or lower, part of the Moon emerges first, and the Moon will
look like a crescent that grows thicker by the minute.

By 6:00 p.m. the Moon is one-quarter of the way out of the dark part of the Earth's shadow, and it is a comfortable 13 degrees high. It should be readily visible low in the east (weather permitting). It becomes more easily seen as it continues to emerge and to rise higher until it has entirely escaped the umbra at 7:04 p.m. Then only the upper part of the Moon will be darkened

By 7:30 p.m. the eclipse is essentially over, although the moon does not exit the outer, light part of the Earth's shadow until 8:21 p.m.

Eclipse Timeline (PST)
4:41 p.m.   moonrise (from Los Angeles)
5:06 p.m.   totality begins
5:18 p.m.   mid-eclipse
5:30 p.m.   totality ends
7:04 p.m.   moon leaves umbra
8:21 p.m.   moon leaves penumbra

These times are valid anywhere (except moonrise, which is calculated for Los Angeles); make appropriate time zone changes if not in the Pacific time zone. This eclipse is visible simultaneously from all of North and South America, Europe, and Africa.

A graphic showing the stages of the eclipse and a timeline is posted at the Observatory's web site at http://www.griffithobs.org/eclipse20031108.html. You'll find additional
information on this eclipse at http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/OH/OH2003.html#LE2003Nov09T.

It is not necessary to use a telescope to view the eclipse, although binoculars or a low-power telescope will enhance the color. The Moon will appear reddened, and this reddish color comes from both sunlight that is refracted around the edge of the Earth and onto the Moon and from dust in our atmosphere as we look up at the Moon.

The next lunar eclipse visible from Los Angeles happens on October 27, 2004.  It, too, is total and it happens during the evening.

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