Jerry Schad

Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

It would have been easier to travel overland to some part of the United States or Mexico that was experiencing clear skies. Lunar eclipses are visible from Earth's entire night hemisphere, and San Diego was nearly centered on the zone of visibility for this last total one. I, for one, was pleased that although the eclipse was rained out, at least we are getting some nice rainfall to nourish our parched Southern California landscape. Our next total solar eclipse takes place about a year from now (December 10). Below is some copy excerpted from a list of yearly celestial events that I prepare and hand out to my astronomy and physical science students. December 9-10, 2011: On the afternoon of December 9, the full moon rises from the east horizon at around 4:11 p.m., about one-half hour before the sun sets. The next morning, near dawn on December 10, there occurs 2011's most interesting astronomical event -- a TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE. At San Diego, we will only see part of this eclipse. Partial phases of the eclipse begin at 4:46 a.m., with the moon sinking in the western sky. Over the next hour and twenty minutes, Earth’s shadow will take an increasing “bite” into the sunlit moon. Totality begins at 6:06 a.m., with the moon low in the west and dawn’s glare well underway in the east. Use binoculars to track the totally eclipsed moon, which will look practically like a ghost compared to its normal bright self. Soon after totality begins, the moon will become invisible due to the strengthening light of dawn.
— December 21, 2010 9:08 a.m.

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