Clad Moon Rising...

Posted Updated
2004 Lunar Eclipse
Mike Moss
Okay, that's probably one of the worst paraphrasings ever of the old CCR song title, but it seems to fit the situation we'll see this Saturday evening, March 3rd, as a fully eclipsed moon, "clad" in the rusty orange hues of indirect sunlight scattered and refracted around the edges of the earth by our atmosphere, slips above the horizon at about 6:07 pm EST while well within the earth's shadow. It will then begin to emerge from that shadow with a brightening crescent at around 6:58 pm, and will finally return to a full moon appearance at about 8:11 pm.

This will be the first total lunar eclipse since October of 2004, but is also the first in a series of three that will occur within the next year. The timing is a little tricky with this one in our area, though, as the moon will rise just a bit before the sun sets at 6:11 pm, and we will remain in Civil Twilight, with a fair amount of residual sunlight, until 6:37 pm. There will still be a little leftover sunlight in the sky even as the moon begins to emerge from the earth's shadow just before 7 pm, but by then the surrounding sky should be dark enough for a reasonable look at the eclipsed lunar disk, so long as your view isn't blocked by nearby trees, hills or buildings. This is a bit of a concern for this event, since even by the time the moon begins to drift out of the earth's shadow, it will only have risen to an angle of just over 9 degrees above the eastern horizon (almost due east at that time), which is only about a tenth of the way up, of course, to straight overhead. Also of note, the planet Saturn will be visible in the sky a little ways up and a bit to the right of the moon at that time.

For a nice discussion of the upcoming eclipse, see

and for some really nice photos of the most recent eclipse in 2004, and many others at the main site, see

which was the source for the two composite images above.

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