2014-04-03

Total Lunar Eclipse on April 15th, 2014

On Tuesday, April 15 2014, the Moon will enter Earth's shadow and undergo a total eclipse. The eclipse will be visible in it's entirety during the morning of April 15 in most of the Americas and the pacific ocean. It's final stages can bee seen also during evening twilight of April 15 in western Australia. It's the fist one of two total lunar eclipses this year, the second occurs on October 8th, and is also best visible in the pacific region.

+++++++++UPDATE: The eclipse was a success in Southern Chile - the clouds disappeared just when totality started:

During totality.



Passing clouds make a nice image during partial eclipse.
 +++++++++
Path of the Moon through Earth's umbral and penumbral shadows
during the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014 (times in EDT). Click to embiggen. Source: mreclipse.com
Update: I found a cool animation of the eclipse by Michael Zeiler of eclipse-maps.com:

http://vimeo.com/89766307
Click here to proceed to animation on Vimeo. Source: eclipse-maps.com

The eclipse start and end times are as follows (source: NASA). The table includes Universal Time (UT), Eastern Daylight Time (EDT, e.g. New York) and Chilean Summer Time (CLST, because that's where I hope to observe the eclipse).
  1. Penumbral Eclipse Begins: 04:53:37 UT (00:54 EDT, 01:54 CLST)
  2. Partial Eclipse Begins: 05:58:19 UT (01:58 EDT, 02:58 CLST)
  3. Total Eclipse Begins: 07:06:47 UT (03:07 EDT, 04:07 CLST)
  4. Greatest Eclipse: 07:45:40 UT (03:46 EDT, 04:46 CLST)
  5. Total Eclipse Ends: 08:24:35 UT (04:25 EDT, 05:25 CLST)
  6. Partial Eclipse Ends: 09:33:04 UT (05:33 EDT, 06:33 CLST)
  7. Penumbral Eclipse Ends: 10:37:37 UT (06:38 EDT, 07:38 CLST)
See the world map below to find out whether the eclipse is visible at your site or not (click for larger version):

The eclipse is visible in it's entirety only in the unshaded area. Source: mreclipse.com
Although technically the eclipse stars when the Moon enters Earth's outer shadow (the penumbra), it will not be readily visible until it touches the umbra (Partial Eclipse Begins). Once fully in the umbra, the total eclipse begins and the Moon will look somewhere between dark-red to light-red, depending on the condition of Earth's atmosphere.

It never gets darkened beyond visibility, because there is still light falling on the lunar surface: sunlight bend around Earth's atmosphere. During a total lunar eclipse the Moon is illuminated by all sunrises and sunsets at the given time on Earth.

The total lunar eclipse of 2007, August 27 over Arequipa, Peru. I cheated: the moon was in reality four times smaller than depicted here! But this photoshopping gives a better impression of how the eclipse looked like to the unaided eye.
Below are shown three sky maps during the total eclipse, one fore the US East Coast, one for Southern Chile and one for Western Australia (click to embiggen). Note that the moon is close to Mars and even closer to the bright star Spica in Virgo. For Australian skywatchers, Ian Musgrave has more detailed maps and instructions. You find more maps and information about this and upcoming eclipses on Fred Espenak's website.

Clear Skies!

The sky during the April 15 total lunar eclipse seen from the US East Coast.

The sky during the April 15 total lunar eclipse seen from Southern Chile.

The sky during the April 15 total lunar eclipse seen from Western Australia. All maps created with Stellarium.

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