Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eclipsing Moon

Utahns watching the sky during the early morning hours of June 26th will be treated to a partial eclipse of the Moon.

According to NASA Solar System Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, "The dark, easily visible part of the eclipse will start about 4:17 a.m. MDT." Maximum eclipse will occur at 5:38 when about half of the Moon will be in shadow and the Moon will be setting in the southwest. The final "coming out" stages of the eclipse will not be visible from Utah.

Unlike eclipses of the Sun which require special observing equipment, eclipses of the Moon can be viewed safely with no special equipment. Those watching the eclipse might notice a bright star low in the southeast. That "star" will actually be the planet Jupiter, largest planet in our solar system.

While this will only be a partial eclipse, there is a total lunar eclipse in Utah's skies in late December. The last eclipse of the Moon visible from Utah occurred in 2008.

Utah will not experience an eclipse of the Sun until a partial eclipse occurs in 2012. The next total eclipse of the Sun to be visible from Utah will not occur until 2045 although one will pass just north of the state in 2017. Eclipses of the Moon occur when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, while eclipses of the Sun are caused by the Earth passing into the shadow of the Moon.

For additional astronomical information, including a list of all eclipses visible from Utah through 2025, visit Wiggins' Solar System Ambassador web site at http://utahastro.info/  .

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