Lunar Eclipse, But No Shoot Down


Cool lunar eclipse tonight, and our skies may cooperate. Here’s info from the Quad-Cities National Weather Service office.

…Total Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Night…

“A total lunar eclipse will take place Wednesday evening. In a lunar eclipse…the Sun, Earth and Moon are directly aligned and the Moon passes into the cone of shadow cast by the Earth. The Moon does not all of a sudden become invisible in the night sky, as there is still residual light that is deflected towards it buy the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of this refracted light is in the red part of the color spectrum and as a result, the Moon turns a coppery red, orange or brownish hue. The Moon will begin to be partially eclipsed at 7:43 pm CST Wednesday evening…with the total eclipse beginning at 9:01 pm CST. The Total eclipse will last until 9:51 pm CST…when the Moon starts to exit the Earth’s shadow.  The next total lunar eclipse viewable in the United States will not take place until December 21st, 2010.

“Viewing conditions should be good Wednesday evening with clear to mostly clear skies…if you are willing to brave the frigid temperatures. Much of the area will be below zero by the time the total eclipse takes place.”

Here’s a cool story in the Arizona Republic about lunar lore.

“Lunar eclipses have coincided or been consequential in several historic events, from the death of Roman kings to the journey of Christopher Columbus, from the fall of ancient civilizations to the Boston Red Sox winning their first World Series in 86 years.”

Maybe you’ve heard the Columbus story:

“The explorer was making his fourth voyage to the New World in 1503 when he and his men were stranded on the coast of Jamaica. After six months and the murder of some natives by some of Columbus’ men, the locals decided to stop providing food to Columbus.

“According to an oft-repeated story, Columbus studied astronomical tables to figure out when the next lunar eclipse was and, a few days before it was scheduled, told the natives that his God was angry and would make the moon disappear.

“The trick worked, and the frightened Jamaicans supplied Columbus and his men with food until Spanish ships arrived to rescue them.”

In other intergalactic news, the US Navy won’t be taking a shot today at that ailing spy satellite falling from orbit. There’s always tomorrow.


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