A Lunar Eclipse, and a Little Something Extra, on October 8
by AMNH on
If you missed the first total lunar eclipse of the year in mid-April, the last chance to see one in 2014 will be this Wednesday, October 8. Though it's best viewed from the Pacific Ocean (or the West Coast), landlubbers in the New York area can enjoy the sight, too: during eclipse totality beginning at 6:25 EDT, the Moon will turn a shade of "blood" red and appear as a giant, low-hanging sphere over the western horizon for about 40 minutes, until moonset. For more detailed information, check out NASA's map of worldwide eclipse visibility.
As the sun rises on October 8, sky gazers across the United States should keep their eyes peeled for a seemingly impossible sight: a glimpse of the eclipsed setting Moon and rising Sun sharing the sky, an effect called a "selenelion." Since the Sun and the Moon are aligned in a straight-line configuration during a lunar eclipse, such an observation should not be possible—except that Earth's atmosphere distorts the view, bumping images of each celestial body above the horizon for several minutes before the Sun actually rises and the Moon sets. East of the Mississippi River, this distortion translates into a brief window—2 to 9 minutes long—to see the elusive selenelion.
For regions of visibility during this phenomenon, and to learn much more about the particular phases of this total lunar eclipse, head over to the Museum's astronomy blog, the Sky Reporter.