Earth's moon during a total eclipse. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Full Lunar Eclipse Visible in Fredericksburg Tuesday

by | Dec 13, 2014 | Around Town

By Susan Larson

A total eclipse of the moon will be visible from the entire North and South American continents and much of the Pacific Basin — weather permitting — during the early morning hours April 14 – 15.

In addition, Spica — the bright star in the constellation Virgo — will be visible very close to the moon during the eclipse, less than two degrees away, according to National Geographic (NG).   “That’s equal to the width of two middle fingers held at arm’s length.”

The eclipse will begin at 12:53 a.m. EDT April 15, but not much will be visible until about 1:58 a.m. EDT, when the moon begins to move into the umbra, the darkest center of Earth’s shadow.  The height, or midpoint, of the total eclipse will occur at 3:46 a.m

During a full lunar eclipse, the moon passes behind the Earth, which blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon.  “Due to the moon’s tilted orbit around the Earth, this doesn’t occur every month; instead, it usually happens once every few years, though there are sometimes more than one in a year,” said NG.

The moon will change colors from white to deep red as the Earth’s shadow passes across it.  “During an eclipse, sunlight shining through the ring of Earth’s dusty atmosphere is bent, or refracted, toward the red part of the spectrum and cast onto the moon’s surface,” said NG. This is the same reason sunsets look red.

Lunar eclipses are safe to view with the unaided eye, unlike solar eclipses.

The eclipse will also be webcast from the SLOOH Observatory, with live feeds from throughout North America including the Prescott Observatory in Prescott, Arizona.

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