A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow.
At 2 o'clock in the morning (EDT) on April 15th, you can be treated to this spectacular lunar eclipse. It will be visible from all of North America, and seen well up into the western sky.
This is actually the first of two such events this year. The second one will be in October, so if your area has cloudy skies, all is not lost.
You might have a second chance.
However, at Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI, Dr. David Clavier is offering a special link to the event by opening viewing access up to the public.
The West Optical Observatory at PARI features a 0.4m DFM telescope fitted with an Apogee Alta E42 camera. The telescope has a wide field of view and can provide enough sky coverage to get the full effect of the Moon as it is suspended in space.
The eclipse will begin when the left edge of the full Moon enters the Earth's dark inner shadow (the umbra) at about 1:57am (EDT). It will be evident by a "notch" in the left edge of the Moon. It will continue to become fully immersed in the Earth's umbra for about 69 minutes.
Totality of the eclipse will last approximately an hour and begin at 3:06am (EDT). Thereafter, the Moon will begin to slowly emerge from the cone of darkness at 4:25am. The right edge of the Moon clears the umbra at about 5:33am beginning the conclusion of the beautiful celestial show. The Eclipse is over at 6:38am, April 15th.
There are a few interesting features of the Total Eclipse of the Moon worth noticing. Two obvious features are the Moon's intense darkness throughout the event and also the color range displayed during the eclipse. These depend on the clarity of the Earth's atmosphere in the early morning hours.
The Earth's atmosphere will refract or bend sunlight around and into the umbral shadow. Among the colors that have been seen in other eclipses are shades of reddish-orange, brown, copper, rose, and even deep, dark red. It can be a dramatically colorful event.
Another feature to notice is that the Earth's shadow is curved during all phases of the eclipse as the Moon passes through it. It was the proof to ancient astronomers of the roundness of the Earth.
Finally, the event provides an acute awareness that our Earth is moving eastward in its orbit. It first passes into, then through, then out of the shadow at roughly its own diameter each hour.
Please visit the PARI website for more information about the Asheville, NC location and the NASA campus with its educational facilities.
For additional information, please see the following links:
Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)
0.4m (16") Classical Cassegrain Telescope