ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Between 11:30 P.M. Sunday and 1:00 A.M. Monday morning the moon will pass directly through Earth’s shadow cast by the sun resulting in a total lunar eclipse. At first, around 10 P.M. or so it will look like an ordinary full moon, but just one hour later as RIT School of Physics and Astronomy professor Michael Richmond explains, the moon will appear darker, and maybe look a little bit funny looking.
Michael Richmond says, “At around twelve or twelve thirty it’ll be at its height. The whole moon will be covered with a dark, reddish glow and then over the next hour after that the reddish glow will slide off to the other side, and the moon will retain its normal silvery shine.”
A typical full moon appears silver and bright, but when the Earth’s shadow covers it, it becomes darker and sometimes appears a coppery, red color depending on the state of the Earth’s atmosphere.
“This one goes right through the center so it’s one of the better eclipses, and it’s also going to appear up high in the sky so people in Rochester can look at it and go, there it is, way up there it’s easy to see”, Richmond said.
Why don’t we see a lunar eclipse every single month during a full moon? Because the moon’s orbit around the Earth is tilted, which means the shadow misses the Earth most of the time due to lunar precession. This is why eclipses whether solar or lunar are always a special event, because when it’s lined up just right you can get a really neat sky show.
Remember you don’t need any special glasses or any special equipment to view a lunar eclipse. You just need yourself, the night sky, maybe a chair, and some patience.
“A lunar eclipse goes on for several hours. It’s all low pressure. It’s a good time to spend time with friends and family,” Richmond said.
Depending on if the weather can cooperate, it’s a nice opportunity for the community to come together and witness a really neat sky show.
Members of the RIT and Rochester community are invited to come out to view the lunar eclipse at their weather dependent open house located at their observatory, where there will be educational activities, trivia, and viewings through their telescopes. For more tips on viewing the lunar eclipse, you can check out the web story online on Rochesterfirst.com.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory