Bay Area residents prepare for red moon rising
Photo courtesy Nasa.gov
By Maya Strausberg
February 20, 2008
Bay Area residents will get an astronomical feast for the eyes
tonight as a total lunar eclipse graces the eastern horizon of
By the time the moon is visible at about 5:45 p.m., it will already
be partially eclipsed. The moon will become totally eclipsed at
7:01 p.m. and will reappear at 7:51 p.m.
Ryan Turner, an astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science
Center in Berkeley, explained today that sky gazers will be dazzled
by the red hue the moon will take on during the eclipse.
"The moon turns red because the light of the sun filters
through the earth's atmosphere," he said. He added that if
there was no atmosphere, the moon would be totally black during
the eclipse, but the atmosphere allows light to retract around
In addition to the beautiful color, the moon will also have some
company in the sky thanks to Saturn and the bright star Regulus.
Turner said the bright lights will appear next to the moon, making
an already stunning view even more unique.
The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye but the changes
will be more rapidly visible with binoculars or a telescope.
Unlike during a meteor shower, it is unnecessary to get away
from bright lights to see the astronomical event because the moon
is so bright.
More important is a clear eastern exposure, Tuner said, and possibly
a little altitude because the moon will stay low in the sky.
He said places like Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road
at Tilden Regional Park north of Berkeley in unincorporated Alameda
County would allow for a fantastic view but will most likely be
Museums and parks throughout the area will offer telescopes,
hikes and lectures regarding the moon passing into the Earth's
San Francisco's Randall Museum will hold a viewing and a lecture
on "moonology" beginning at 7 p.m. Those interested
in attending can call (415) 554-9600 or go to www.randallmuseum.org.
The Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park is offering a lunar hike from
5:30 to 8:30 p.m. that will lead to the ridge top olive groves.
Anyone who would like to hike the 1.5 mile-trail needs to register
by calling (510) 562-PARK or going to www.ebparks.org.
Helen Putnam Regional Park in Petaluma will also hold an eclipse
hike with Santa Rosa Junior College Planetarium Director Ed Megill.
Hikers can meet at the Oxford Court entrance at 6:30 p.m. and
expect to be back by 8:30 p.m. Reservations are recommended and
can be made by calling (707) 565-2730.
Local events, especially those taking place outside, may be affected
by lousy weather. Rain showers are possible throughout the Bay
Area and cloudy skies are nearly certain tonight.
Chabot Space & Science Center spokesman Robert Ade said they
are hoping for a break in the clouds during their Red Moon Rising
event from 5 to 8 p.m. But if the weather doesn't cooperate, the
center will show a webcast from elsewhere.
The next total lunar eclipse visible from North America will
be Dec. 20, 2010, according to Tuner.
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