Saturday, June 2, 2012

Upcoming Partial Lunar Eclipse

On the morning of Monday, June 4, there will be a partial eclipse of the full moon in the few hours before sunrise. About a third of the Moon will enter the Earth’s dark shadow, starting at 3:00 am PDT and ending at 5:06 am PDT (mid-­‐eclipse at 4:03 am PDT). No optical aid is needed to view the eclipse, though binoculars or telescopes will provide a magnified view. There is no danger when viewing a lunar eclipse with the naked eye, binoculars, or telescopes; filters are not needed (unlike the case for a partial solar eclipse). Just go outside wherever you are, and take a look! But some local astronomy clubs and science centers (such as the Chabot Space and Science Center in the Oakland hills) will hold official public viewing sessions; check online.

The entire easily visible part of the eclipse (when the Moon is in the Earth’s “umbra,” or full shadow) will be visible from California. As seen from the central USA, moonset will occur during the eclipse. The eastern US will basically miss out on this eclipse, since it will begin around or after moonset. West of California (say, in Hawaii), the entire eclipse [penumbra (partial, bright shadow) and umbra (full, dark shadow)] will be visible with the Moon high in the sky. For more information, see (courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA’s GSFC.

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