Saturday, April 19, 2014

Lunar Eclipse Cycle

Monday night the moon underwent a beautiful total lunar eclipse. Sitting at my computer in front of my east-facing window I was able to watch the moon as it rose over the course of two hours while the earth's shadow slowly crept over it (when it was visible between the scattered clouds, that is!).

Lunar eclipses aren't as flashy as solar eclipses are, but while the majority of people will never see (or have the opportunity to see) a solar eclipse without traveling out of their way, lunar eclipses are visible to the entire night side of the world. I'm sorry that I didn't realize this one was coming up soon enough to advertise it ahead of the fact – I'll try to remember to do so for the next one, as it's a really cool experience to see one. This one was especially cool because the moon passed very close to Mars as it was at full coverage, making for quite the spectacle.

This eclipse was also interesting because it was the first in a cycle of four such total eclipses. The interactions between the earth and the moon are complex, and usually you get a mixture of partial and total lunar eclipses, but every so often we get these neat cycles of four total lunar eclipses in a row. The remaining three eclipses are set to take place on October 8 2014, April 4 2015, and September 28 2015. A hui hou!

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