Most of the Sidewalk astronomers are staying home, otherwise engaged, or
doing school or scouting events that aren't reliant on guaranteed
viewing tonight. We have been looking on Weather.com
, or weather
underground and the forecast is cloud cover/poor transparent skies for
Pasadena and much of Southern California. Your eyes are the best
observing tool for lunar eclipses. So take a break from the football
games and check out the sky after 7:30p.m. that's when the first "bite"
will show. I like to sketch the moon, and one thing you could do is
draw some circles like the sketching example (on a sheet of paper
secured on a clipboard.) Fill in the amount of shadow you observe and
show the time you observe it below your sketch and draw or mark any
prominent features you see. I'll try to do the same at my scouting
Sketching example from Erika Rix publisshed in Astronomy Magazine:
Lunar features annotated
Here are times of key eclipse events:
before eclipse - note the features you see on the full moon
7:33 pm Moon enters the Earth’s inner shadow (first bite)
8:40 pm Totality begins (moon is covered in shadow)
9:12 pm Mid-eclipse
9:43 pm Totality ends (moon emerges from shadow)
10:51 pm Moon exits the earth's inner shadow
One or two astronomers may be on the corner of Myrtle and Lime from 7:30
- 8:30 or 9 tonight, to look for the moon through the expected clouds
and possibly aim binoculars if there are fleeting views. Don't make a
special trip, but if you are planning to walk around Monrovia tonight,
you may see an astronomer or two with binoculars, no promise of a
telescope. I don't think the astronomers will stay past the beginning
of totality at 8:40 p.m., so your best bet is to look up from your own
place if you can see the moon. Your eyes turn out to be the best
instrument for viewing lunar eclipses. I'm bringing binoculars and
wishful thinking to a girl scout event tonight.
From the Griffith Observatory announcement:
NOTE: The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye from anywhere in
southern California if skies are clear. You do not need a telescope.
It is safe to view a lunar eclipse without any eye protection.
Griffith Observatory has a warning about crowds, and traffic and lots of
great info here. If you plan on going, be prepared to either go several
hours before 7:30 p.m. or go late, and park miles away & walk.
There are other cool astronomical events coming up so don't let the
clouds dampen your stargazing enthusiasm!
See you all soon!
Jane Houston Jones
Astronomer, music lover, storyteller
NASA's January What's Up has not been posted due to partial gov't shutdown,
sorry, but I'm retired!