Total Lunar Eclipse on April 14, 2014

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Omarr S. Guerrero, Staff Writer

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The hours between April 14 and 15 will hold a special astronomical event – 2014’s first total lunar eclipse. This lunar eclipse will be visible throughout most of the United States, Canada, all of Central America, and along the West Coast of South America, according to the NASA Eclipse web site.

The event will begin at approximately 9:53 p.m. PDT, and will end around 2:30 a.m. Significant changes, however, will not be noticed until 10:58 p.m. when the moon begins to darken. Totality will occur around midnight, and will end approximately at 1:24 a.m. A special lecture at Mesa College will be held on the night of the eclipse, Monday, April 14, from 7-8 p.m. in classroom MS101. The speaker for the lecture will be Mesa Astronomer Dave Coleman.

A lunar eclipse is when the sun, Earth, and moon are in alignment (either perfectly or very close to) with the moon entering Earth’s shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses are safe to look at, can be seen without the need of special equipment, and can be viewed anywhere on the night side of Earth. There are at least two lunar eclipses each year.

There are three types of lunar eclipses: a penumbral eclipse, a partial lunar eclipse, and a total lunar eclipse. A penumbral eclipse is when the moon only passes through only the outer, lighter part of Earth’s shadow called the “penumbra.” A partial lunar eclipse is when the moon passes through the penumbra and part of the darker part of Earth’s shadow called the “umbra.” A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon completely passes through Earth’s umbra. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon will change from its usual grey color to a coppery-red color once it enters the umbra, earning it the moniker “blood moon” in certain cultures.

This is the first of a series of total lunar eclipses scientists call a tetrad. A tetrad is when four total lunar eclipses occur within a six-month interval between each eclipse without a penumbral or partial lunar eclipse interrupting the string. The next total lunar eclipse will occur on Oct. 8, followed by a third on April 4, 2015, with the last of the tetrad happening on Sept. 28. The 2014-15 tetrad will be visible throughout all or parts of the United States, according to long-time NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak through a video on, titled “A Tetrad Of Lunar Eclipses Starts In April.”

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