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Good viewing expected for total lunar eclipse May 15

Experience total lunacy on Thursday, May 15, as the moon moves completely into the Earth’s shadow. Lunar eclipses occur, on average, twice a year. A good viewing, however, happens only every few years. Barring clouds the eclipse should be one of the best since January 2000. The next one will occur this year on Nov. 8.

From University of Wisconsin, Madison:GOOD VIEWING EXPECTED FOR TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE ON MAY 15

MADISON – Experience total lunacy on Thursday, May 15, as the moon moves completely into the Earth’s shadow. Before the total lunar eclipse begins around 9 p.m., the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Place will host a talk on this astronomical event. Afterward, telescopes will be available so viewers can take a closer look.

Lunar eclipses occur, on average, twice a year. A good viewing, however, happens only every few years, says Space Place Director Jim Lattis, who explains that some eclipses are either scarcely noticeable or occur during our daytime.

Barring clouds, Lattis expects the viewing of the next week’s eclipse to be one of the best since January 2000. The next one will occur this year on Nov. 8 and also will be visible from Madison.

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon passes through the outer and inner parts of the Earth’s shadow, which are called the penumbra and the umbra, respectively. The umbra is the darker of the two. As the moon moves fully into the umbra, it receives less and less light from the sun until it becomes totally eclipsed.

Even though the moon is enshrouded completely in the shadow, it often takes on a reddish hue.

“If it weren’t for the Earth’s atmosphere, the moon would disappear during a total eclipse – it would be black as coal,” says Lattis. He explains that our atmospheric conditions, such as cloud coverage or the amount of dust particles recently erupted from volcanoes, can alter the color, making it range from dark gray to blood red.

“The mysterious part,” he says, “is that we never know what color the moon will be until the total eclipse takes place.”

Lattis expects the partial eclipse to be visible beginning around 9 p.m. “That’s when it will start to get interesting,” he says, adding that the middle of the eclipse should occur around 10:30 p.m.

His talk, free to the public, will begin at 8:30 p.m. at the Space Place, 1605 South Park St. At 9 p.m., the group will head outdoors to watch the eclipse. For more information, call (608) 262-4779.
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– Emily Carlson, (608) 262-9772, [email protected]




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