Get a Close-up View of Total Lunar Eclipse

UC Riverside to host free public telescope observation of Oct. 8 lunar eclipse

A total lunar eclipse.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – On Wednesday, Oct. 8, California, along with several states in the western United States, will witness a total lunar eclipse, the last lunar eclipse in 2014. The eclipse will be visible with the naked eye.  It will start at 1:15 a.m. and end at 6:33 a.m., Pacific Time.

The University of California, Riverside will host a free public telescope observation at the bell tower on campus from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.  Two telescopes will be available for the public to use.  Light refreshments will be served.

Parking on campus will be free for the duration of the viewing, except in red zones.

“Lunar eclipses are a great opportunity to see the moon in full detail and to understand why some ancient civilizations knew thousands of years ago that the Earth was round,” said Mario De Leo Winkler, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who is organizing the lunar observation at UC Riverside.  “There is no harm to the eyes when watching a lunar eclipse.”

LunareclipsediagramA lunar eclipse takes place when the Earth gets in between the sun and the moon, resulting in the Earth casting its full or partial shadow on the moon. It is a total eclipse if the whole face of the moon falls completely in the shadow of the Earth.  A total eclipse can only happen during a full moon.

“The light from the sun goes through the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, acting much like light does during a sunset or sunrise,” De Leo Winkler said. “The reddish light will diminish the brightness of the moon during the eclipse, and this will allow us to look at the moon’s cratered surface with enhanced detail through the telescopes we will set up on Oct. 8. Assuming we have clear skies, we will be able to see how the moon changes from bright to dark to a red hue within a couple of hours, and then back again.”

Montage of a total lunar eclipse. Photo credit: Morris Maduro, UC Riverside.

Montage of a total lunar eclipse. Photo credit: Morris Maduro, UC Riverside.

The umbra is the region of complete shadow resulting from total obstruction of light. The penumbra, on the other hand, refers to the fringe region of partial shadow around an umbra.  The penumbral phase of the eclipse, which happens at the beginning and end of the eclipse, occurs when a very dim shadow of the Earth is cast over the moon and is almost undetectable by the naked eye.  The umbral phase of the eclipse takes place when the darkest shadow is cast and is clearly visible with the naked eye.

In California, the penumbral phase of the Oct. 8 lunar eclipse will begin at 1:15 a.m., Pacific Time. The umbral phase will begin at 2:14 a.m.  The maximum eclipse will occur at 3:54 a.m.  The umbral phase will end at 5:34 a.m. and the penumbral phase will end at 6:33 a.m.

De Leo Winkler will be available at the UCR event to answer questions from the public. For more information about the eclipse observation, email or call (951) 827-5334.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
Twitter: UCR_Sciencenews

Additional Contacts

Mario De Leo Winkler
Tel: (951) 827-5415

Department of Physics and Astronomy
Tel: (951) 827-5334

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