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Wednesday, 09 April 2014 14:40

Carolinas to experience total lunar eclipse

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Astronomy lovers and night owls in the Carolinas will get the chance to witness a total eclipse of the moon on the morning of April 15, and photographers will have a chance for some spectacular moon photos during its eclipse in the western sky. 

As the Moon orbits the Earth, it becomes a full moon once every 29 days.  Most months, the full moon moon passes above or below the Earth’s shadow, so there is no eclipse. But twice per year (some years, three times), roughly six months apart, the Moon can pass through the Earth’s shadow, causing an eclipse. 

So, if you’re a stargazer, pencil these times into your nighttime schedule April 15. 

• 12:54 a.m.: Moon starts to enter a space of partial shading — the penumbra — of Earth’s shadow. 

• 1:58 a.m.: Moon starts to enter a space of complete shading — the umbra — from Earth’s shadow. Look for a “notch” in the left edge of the Moon.

• 3:07 a.m.: Moon is entirely in the umbra; total eclipse begins.

• 4:25 a.m.: Moon starts to leave the umbra; total eclipse is over.

• 5:33a.m.: Moon is completely out of the umbra and enters the penumbra. 

• 6:38 a.m.: Moon is completely out of the penumbra. Eclipse is over.

Unlike a solar eclipse, which is not safe to view with unprotected eyes, lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to look at directly. 

For more, connect with the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute at http://twitter.com/Astronomy_PARI.

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