Lunar Eclipse Tetrad (2014-2015)

Lunar and solar eclipses occur at irregular, but predictable, intervals. Late on the night of April 14-15, the Moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow. 

All of the next four lunar eclipses, a tetrad, will be at least partially visible from central Kentucky. The penumbral phase is difficult to observe.  The Earth's penumbral shadow is a region where the Moon is only partially illuminated by the Sun. That is, an observer on the Moon in the penumbra would see a partial solar eclipse. The Earth's umbral shadow is much easier to observe.  An observer on the Moon in the umbral shadow would not see any part of the Sun.  The shadow events as seen from central Kentucky, and the time they occur can be found here. Events are printed in green when the Moon is high enough above the horizon to be easily visible. Yellow text indicates the Moon is near the horizon. Events in red are not visible from central Kentucky. A black and white printer-friendly version can be found here

The Moon will not completely disappear while in the Earth’s shadow. Light scattered concurrently from all of the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets will dimly illuminate the Full Moon.  The degree of dimming and the intensity of the reddish coloring is not generally predictable. It will depend on the amount of dust and aerosols in our atmosphere at the time. Binoculars will reveal faint details on the Moon during totality. The timetable for the night of April 14-15 is,

  • Umbra entered (visible eclipse begins) 1:57 AM EDT
  • Totality begins  3:05 AM EDT
  • Mid-Eclipse 3:45 AM EDT
  • Totality ends 4:26 AM EDT
  • Umbra left     (visible eclipse ends) 5:34 AM EDT

During totality, it will be easier to see fainter objects that appear close to the Moon. Look for the bright star Spica and the planet Mars while the Moon is temporarily dimmed.

Even point-and-shoot cameras are capable of photographing a lunar eclipse. Use a tripod or a pillow so that you don’t have to hand-hold it. It may help to program the settings to underexpose the field. We will be happy to post your submissions here. 

It appears unlikely that the weather will allow a view of the April 14-15 lunar eclipse. Our next opportunity will be in October, 2014. 

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