Culture News

When to Catch Tomorrow's "Impossible" Total Lunar Eclipse

If you can drag yourself out of bed tomorrow morning, you'll want to look up to get a glimpse of a total lunar eclipse -- the last one until 2014

The moon passes through the southern part of the Earth's shadow, which gives the "eclipse" effect, (fortunately not of the vampire variety) in the early morning and will last about an hour. Depending on cloud coverage and light interference, there will also be a chance to see a selenelion, an effect deemed "impossible" by celestial geometry. 

A "selenelion" (or "selenehelion") occurs when both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time. 

Astronomers note that during an eclipse, the sun, the earth, and the moon are in a straight line in space. But due to atmospheric refraction, which causes the human eye to perceive astronomical objects higher in the sky than they are in reality, there will be a short window (one to six minutes) when you might be able to spot the sun rising in the east-southeast and the full, eclipsed moon setting in the west-northwest. 

The lunar eclipse is scheduled to be visible in Phoenix at around 7:20 a.m., with the selenelion visible during the first three or so minutes. 

Note: If you sleep in, you can check the action out online on the Slooh space camera (way cool).

If you took a photo of the eclipse, send it our way. If anyone got up early enough to see it, we'll post the best photos for those of you who slept in. 

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton