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Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20, 2019

This article appeared in the January 18, 2019 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Total Lunar Eclipse on January 20, 2019

Photo by Irvin calicut.

 

By Vinita Domier

Special to the Enterprise

 

Viewers in the Americas will experience an extra special ‘super blood moon’ eclipse on January 20/21 night when the full moon will be totally eclipsed for 62 minutes. For local observers, totality will occur on Sunday, January 20 between 8:41pm to 9:43pm, with the greatest eclipse occurring at 9:12pm.

 

No special equipment or precautions are needed to watch this spectacular celestial show except clear skies. The next opportunity to view a total lunar eclipse anywhere on earth will be on May 26, 2021, so do not miss this chance.

 

An eclipse occurs when the view of a celestial body is temporarily obscured as it transits through another celestial body’s shadow. During a lunar eclipse, the moon is eclipsed when it passes through the earth’s shadow.

 

This can only occur during the moon’s full phase when the earth is between the sun and the moon in a straight-line alignment, known as synergy of the earth-moon-sun system. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the entire full moon is in the earth’s dark umbral shadow, whereas a partial eclipse occurs when only part of the moon is in the earth’s shadow cone.

 

During a total lunar eclipse, the full moon gradually moves into the earth's shadow (partial eclipse), then is completely in its shadow (total eclipse), followed by gradually moving out of the earth's shadow (partial eclipse). For local observers, the initial partial phase of the lunar eclipse will begin at 7:34pm, totality will occur between 8:41pm to 9:43pm, and the final partial phase will end at 10:51pm.

 

During the totality part of the lunar eclipse, the eclipsed moon is not completely obscured from view. It is faintly illuminated by the reddish components of sunlight that scatters off the earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a reddish full moon that is popularly referred to as ‘blood’ moon. The hue varies from bright to deep red depending on the atmospheric conditions at the time of the eclipse.

 

When the moon is at or near its closest approach to the earth (perigee) during its monthly elliptical orbit and is in full phase, it appears 12-14% bigger in size and up to 30% brighter and is popularly referred to as a ‘super’ full moon. The first three full moons of 2019 (January 21, February 19, and March 21) all happen to be supermoons.

 

Please join the Davis Astronomy Club on Sunday, January 20 starting at 7:00pm at the Explorit Science Center (3141 5th Street, Davis) for the special meeting to discuss and observe the total lunar eclipse. Everyone is invited to the free meeting indoors, followed by a star party outdoors.

 

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Explorit’s coming events:

 

●      Visit Explorit’s latest exhibition, Earth Explorations. Explorit’sExploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.

●      Join Explorit and the American Association of University Women for An Evening Celebrating Women in STEM on Tuesday, January 29 at 6:15 p.m. at Da Vinci Charter Academy (1400 E. 8th St. in Davis), a relaxed evening for students and their families to meet women in STEM careers. Please RSVP at celebratingwomeninstem.eventbrite.com.

●      Join us on Saturday, January 26 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. for Explorit's Burrowing Owl presentation with a talk from Dr. Janet Foley and fun owl crafts! Great for young kids and families.

 

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

 

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