SKY REPORTER: Two October Eclipses


A lunar eclipse from September 11, 2003.

The total eclipse of the Moon early on the morning of Wednesday October 8 is an interesting but challenging event when viewed from New York City. Be prepared by scouting a suitable observing site with a clear view above the western horizon.

The dark umbral shadow of Earth starts to appear on the lower left of the Full Moon’s disk at 5:15 a.m. EDT on the morning of the eighth. Then the Moon is low in our western sky just 19 degrees of arc above the horizon. During the next 99 minutes an increasingly darkened Moon will appear to slide down and to the right. Totality starts locally at 6:25 a.m. but twilight soon intervenes, reducing contrast and visibility of the pale reddish glow of eclipsed moonlight. I’ll be using binoculars to try and keep the lunar orb in view during this period of reduced lunar vividness. Mid-eclipse is at 6:54 a.m., just five minutes before sunrise. Ten minutes later the Moon will set. During that brief period both Sun and totally eclipsed Moon will be above the horizon simultaneously. In a previous blog report Joe Rao provides more specifics of this unusual situation.

Thursday October 23 a partial eclipse of the Sun will occur over a wide area of the United States, Canada, and the northeastern Pacific. However in New York City our views will be limited. The partial eclipse stage begins at 5:49 p.m. EDT just a quarter hour before sunset. The Moon will cover a maximum of only seven percent of the solar disk when seen from New York City. Dangers are inherent for inexperienced observers without suitable eye protection trying to see that small notch on the solar disk visible from our locale.   

Times and circumstances of October’s eclipses seen from additional areas may be gleaned at NASA's eclipse website.


The Moon

Lunar Phases, October 2014
First Quarter October 1
Full Moon  October 8
Last Quarter  October 15
New Moon  October 23
First Quarter  October 30



Mercury is too close to the Sun for casual observing during October. Next month it will be well placed for viewing in the predawn sky.

In October Mars may be seen low in the southwest during hours immediately following fading of evening twilight.

Jupiter is a bright feature of the eastern sky during predawn hours.

Saturn may be seen in the evening, low in the southwest for about an hour following evening twilight.

Venus is at superior conjunction, in approximately the same direction as the Sun, on Saturday October 25th. It will become a prominent feature of evening skies as this brilliant planet increases its angular separation from the western horizon at sunset in November.

The evening of the 25th Saturn may be seen at 6:30 p.m. six degrees of arc above the horizon and three degrees to the lower right of the thin crescent Moon.

Tuesday the 28th Mars is eight degrees south of the crescent Moon low in the southwestern sky at seven p.m.

Planets for October 15th
Mercury Sets 6:10 p.m. Virgo
Venus Rises 6:53 a.m. Virgo
Mars Sets 9:14 p.m. Ophiuchus
Jupiter Rises 1:44 a.m. Leo
Saturn Sets 7:43 p.m. Libra
Uranus Sets 6:34 p.m. Pisces
Neptune Sets 3:16 a.m. Aquarius