Total Eclipse in Georgia!

Tonight we watched a total eclipse, at about 10pm eastern standard time. There’s a good article by the citizen.com below on the eclipse. Enjoy learning!

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View the Total Lunar Eclipse of Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2008

Mon, 02/18/2008 – 9:52am

Georgians will have an opportunity, clouds allowing, to see a total eclipse of the Moon on Wednesday night, Feb. 20. The next total lunar eclipse visible from Georgia won’t occur until December 2010. For this month’s eclipse, members of the Flint River Astronomy Club will have their telescopes and binoculars set up for free views by the public. The site will be in front of the club’s usual meeting place, the Stuckey Building on the Griffin campus, University of Georgia, at 1109 Experiment Street. Telescopes will be set up at 8 p.m. to view the Moon, Saturn, and various stars, and the eclipse begins at 8:43 p.m.

Warm clothing is advised to enjoy this event. If you have a scope or binoculars, feel free to bring them.

Usually one or two lunar eclipses occur each year, although some are only partial eclipses. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, which can only occur at full Moon. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and Sun, which can only occur at new Moon. Eclipses occur in pairs, about two weeks apart, either a lunar eclipse followed by solar, or a solar eclipse followed by lunar. This month, a solar eclipse occurred February 7th, but was only visible in the Southern Hemisphere.

Partial eclipse begins at 8:43 p.m., when the Moon begins entering Earth’s shadow, and totality, the point at which the Moon is completely within Earth’s shadow, begins at 10:01 p.m., and lasts until 10:51 p.m. The eclipse ends about midnight.

During totality, no direct sunlight shines on the Moon, but Earth’s atmosphere reflects some sunlight onto it. The result is that the Moon gets very dim, but never dark enough to be invisible.

The color of the Moon during an eclipse varies from year to year, and depends mostly on how much dust is in the atmosphere around the world. Large amounts of dust from volcanic eruptions or forest fires can cause the Moon to be a distinct reddish color. More common is a dull orange color.

The planet Saturn will be seen near the Moon, in the constellation Leo. Now is a good opportunity to view this fascinating planet through a telescope. The tilt of the rings is slowly diminishing so that in September 2009, we will be viewing the rings edge-on, and they will be nearly invisible from Earth.

Mars will also be high in the sky on Wednesday, in the constellation Taurus. It appears very small, but dark features should be just visible through the telescope.

For more information and directions, go to www.flintriverastronomy.org, or call the club’s president, Curt Cole, evenings at 770.946.3405. Information about eclipses can be found at http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/. Click on “Mr. eclipse.”

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