For anyone with an interest in the night sky, Monday April 14 should be of special note as we will have a spectacular view (weather permitting) of a total lunar eclipse. During a lunar eclipse, the Earth will cast a shadow that at its peak will cover the entire lunar surface.
Dr. Thomas Targett of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State says that "It should be quite a show, as the Earth begins to pass between the moon and sun, the same phenomenon that gives rise to the familiar red-sky in the morning and evening here on earth will cause the light form the moon to seem to change colour to a dark red shade."
Targett says an observer in northern California should start to see the outer edges of the Earths shadow on the moon at 10:58 p.m., with totality beginning around 12:07 a.m. "Unlike a solar eclipse which lasts only minute, as the Earth is much bigger than the moon, the period of total obscuration should last for almost half an hour," he says.
Dr. Targett and fellow faculty member Wes Farris will be observing the eclipse from the Sonoma State Observatory tonight from 10:30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome to join them there. The observatory is located in the south eastern most corner of the Sonoma State campus, just south of the running track.
Unfortunately, at present the weather forecast for this area calls for cloud cover and fog. Targett notes that if the conditions at 10 p.m. are looking poor then they will not be going to the observatory.
Below is a time-table of key moments for tonight's eclipse.
10:58 pm PDT - Partial eclipse starts
12:07 am PDT - Total eclipse starts
12:46 am PDT - Mid-eclipse
1:25 am PDT - Total eclipse ends
2:33 am PDT - Partial eclipse ends