Wednesday, March 26, 2014

April 2014 Lunar Eclipse

Never seen a lunar eclipse in person?  How about your kids?  If not, there's a great opportunity coming up in a couple of weeks.  On the morning of April 15, 2014, there is a total lunar eclipse observable to the entire United States (as well as Canada and Mexico and the western third of South America).

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is positioned directly between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on the Moon's surface.  Remember, eclipses are the only time when the Earth or Moon cast shadows on the other.  Regular lunar phases are NOT the result of shadows.

The April 15 eclipse begins at about 2 AM EDT.  This is when the Earth's shadow just starts to creep across the surface of the Moon.  Totality begins at about 3 AM EDT and ends at about 4:30 AM EDT.  The Earth's shadow  moves off the Moon at approximately 5:30 AM EDT.

April 15 is a Tuesday, which is unfortunately a school night for my kids.  However, I'm seriously considering waking them up and showing them the eclipse for a few minutes.  It's a great opportunity for them to experience astronomy in action and lunar eclipses are not something you see every day.  I think that by talking up the eclipse a few days before, they'll both be excited.  Although it's a school night, they'll only be up for a few minutes, and it's a parent/children moment that they'll never forget!

Assuming it's clear, we'll head out a few minutes before totality begins.  That way we can observe the change from partial eclipse to total eclipse.  Crossing my fingers that it will be clear out!

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