On Wednesday, February 20th keep an eye to the night sky and you may just be able to see a total lunar eclipse taking place. It will be the first of two lunar eclipses in 2008 and the only total lunar eclipse this year. The next one will not occur until December 21, 2010.
What is a lunar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth. It can last up to an hour and a half and the Moon may turn a reddish color. It’s not dangerous to look at like a solar eclipse is because the Moon does not make its own light like the Sun does.
So, if the Moon orbits Earth approximately every 30 days and a lunar eclipse only occurs at Full Moon, why don’t we have an eclipse once a month during Full Moon? Well, the Moons orbit around Earth is actually tipped about 5 degrees to Earth’s orbit around the Sun. This means the Moon spends most of the time either above or below the plane of Earth’s orbit…and the plane of Earths orbit around the Sun is important because Earth’s shadows lie exactly in the same plane. The Earth, the Sun and the Moon all have to be lined up just right in order for the eclipse to occur. In the Central Time Zone the eclipse should begin around 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday and end around 9:50 p.m.
So take some time to look up into the chilly skies on Wednesday night and enjoy a rare sight. The good news is that our temperatures will slowly moderate back to more "normal" conditions by the weekend.
Have a great week!
Meteorologist LeAnn Lombardo
Posted under Hometown Weather
This post was written by llombardo on February 19, 2008