UNA Planetarium to host lunar eclipse viewing, rumored to be out-of-this-world

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The total lunar eclipse blood moon of April 2014.

FLORENCE, Ala.– The University of North Alabama is prepping for an intergalactic experience this weekend.

On January 20th the UNA Planetarium is inviting the community to observe the total eclipse at a galactic celebration complete with telescopes.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the full moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. The Moon slowly goes from a full Moon to a dark red color and back to completely full in mere hours. This weekend’s eclipse is predicted to start around 8:30 p.m. on January 20th and will last until the early morning of January 21st.

There are several stages of lunar eclipses. The first stage is the penumbral stage when from the point of view of an observer on the Moon, the Earth only blocks part of the Sun. The next stage is the partial-eclipse phase, where parts of the moon have light from the Sun entirely blocked. The total eclipse stage occurs when the entire Moon is within the Earth’s shadow. After the total eclipse, the sequence of events reverses, with a partial eclipse followed by a penumbral stage at the end. The final stage of the eclipse is often called the “Blood Moon,” because the Moon appears to be a dark red color. This phenomenon occurs when red light passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, hits the Moon’s surface and reflects back to people on earth.

The penumbral stage of the upcoming eclipse begins at around 8:36 p.m. The partial lunar eclipse will begin at 9:33 p.m., the total eclipse begins at 10:41 p.m., and ends 11:43 p.m., with the maximum lunar eclipse at 11:12 p.m.

The entire eclipse can be seen in Alabama without special equipment although a telescope or binoculars can enhance the overall experience.

For more information contact the UNA Planetarium at 256-765-4284 or email rmblake@una.edu

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