Kill the Moon on Wednesday!

No, I actually don’t mean that the Doctor Who episode is getting a rerun (though maybe it is, I don’t know).  I mean something’s happening to the Moon!

If you live anywhere from Asia, Australia, across the Pacific (best viewing in the Pacific), to North America and a little bit of South America, you can see a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday.  (In the evening if you’re in Asia, the middle of the night if you’re in the Pacific, or in the morning if you’re in the Americas.)  Lunar eclipses happen at the same time for all viewers, so check out this chart, locate your position to see whether or not you’re in the viewing area, and then convert the times below from UTC to your local time.  (I’m in Central Daylight Time, so I subtract 5.)


First penumbral contact (penumbral eclipse begins): 08:15:33 UT
First umbral contact (partial eclipse begins): 09:14:49 UT
Second umbral contact (totality begins): 10:25:10 UT
Maximum eclipse: 10:54:37 UT
Third umbral contact (totality ends): 11:24:00 UT
Fourth umbral contact (partial eclipse ends): 12:34:22 UT
Second penumbral contact (penumbral eclipse ends): 13:33:43 UT

Alas, European and African viewers will not get to enjoy this eclipse.  You’ll have to wait until September of next year — or do a bit of traveling.  😉  But for folks like me who live along the edges of the region of totality, there’s an extra treat — the chance to observe a selenion, or that rare moment when Sun and Moon can be seen opposite one another because they are *perfectly* opposite during an eclipse, and refraction in the Earth’s atmosphere allows them to be seen when they are just barely below the horizon.  I’ve seen it twice before: a moon with a bite out of it, hanging in the Belt of Venus (that dusky band near the eastern horizon at sunset on a clear day, or near the western horizon at sunrise).  It robs you of seeing the entire eclipse, but it’s so beautiful that it’s worth it anyway.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to watch “Kill the Moon”.  I missed it over the weekend due to a camping trip with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, but thanks to iTunes, I can watch it anytime!


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Filed under Doctor Who, Space

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