Total Lunar Eclipse – Sept 27, 2015

IMG_1825We had a Lunar Eclipse party last night with 10 guests from Springwater, Wayland and Rochester.  This was the first eclipse party I had been to, and it turned out to be a great way to watch the moon disappear.  We definitely benefited from the clear skies, the pleasant temperatures and the timing of the eclipse which started just after 9:00 pm and was total from 10:11 to 11:23.  I remember getting our boys up at 3:00AM to look at a previous eclipse – yesterday’s was much more convenient.

For most of our guests, the evening began with a drive to Schribner Rd and a beautiful view of the moon rising in the east.  This evening coincided with the moon being at its closes point to the earth.  Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical, rather than perfectly circular, the distance to the full moon is different each month.  Since this moon was closer than usual, the moon appeared larger and brighter than usual. This may be one reason everyone mentioned how big the moon looked – however, I also suspect that the clear sky also contributed to this comment.  At any rate, according to Wikipedia, the moon appears about 14% larger when it is at the closest point, compared to the farthest point of the orbit.  The common name for when a full moon occurs on the closest point is a Super Moon, although astronomers appear to prefer the term perigee-syzygy, a combination of two words most of us will only see in a crossword puzzle or on the scrabble board.

The next total eclipse visible in Springwater will occur on January 21, 2019 and will be totally in the shadow at  11:41, an hour and a half later than last nights eclipse and probably multiple degrees colder! This will not be a Super Moon eclipse, but if the weather cooperates again, it will be worth watching.  If you do, you may notice that the top of the moon will remain nearly white throughout the totality because the moon is crossing the upper part of the earths shadow.  Anyway, it’s not too early to plan your eclipse party!

Thanks to Pati for sharing the picture of the eclipse soon after the start of being totally in shadow.