J. Kelly Beatty, Executive Editor
855-638-5388 x148, kbeatty@SkyandTelescope.com
Alan MacRobert, Senior Editor
855-638-5388 x151, macrobert@SkyandTelescope.com
Note to Editors/Producers: This release is accompanied by high-quality graphics and an animation; see end of release.
For more information, including tips on how to photograph the eclipse, please direct your readers/viewers to http://SkyandTelescope.com/MarchEclipse.
Lucky skywatchers will witness a total lunar eclipse on Saturday evening, March 3, 2007. However, where you live will dictate whether you'll get to enjoy this grand celestial spectacle — or watch the full Moon rise after it's all over.
In the U.S. and Canada, the eclipse strongly favors those east of the Mississippi River, who'll see the Moon completely engulfed by Earth's shadow as night falls. Farther west, the Moon is only partly in shadow by the time it rises (at sunset). Unfortunately, for anyone west of the Rockies, even the event's partial phase ends before moonrise.
Only in New England, Québec, and the Maritime Provinces does the sky become fully dark with the Moon still totally eclipsed. Farther east, the entire eclipse can be viewed from Europe, Africa, and western Asia, where it occurs late at night or before dawn on March 4th.
Here are the key event times for the eclipse, given for five North American time zones. Compare these with your times of sunset and moonrise, which depend on your location (dashes: event not visible):
|Total Eclipse of the Moon — March 3, 2007|
|Partial eclipse begins||5:30 p.m.||—||—||—||—|
|Total eclipse begins||6:44 p.m.||5:44 p.m.||—||—||—|
|Total eclipse ends||7:58 p.m.||6:58 p.m.||5:58 p.m.||—||—|
|Partial eclipse ends||9:12 p.m.||8:12 p.m.||7:12 p.m.||6:12 p.m.||—|
|Last shading visible?||9:50 p.m.||8:50 p.m.||7:50 p.m.||6:50 p.m.||—|
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon form a nearly straight line in space, so that the full Moon passes through Earth's shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special equipment to observe safely, you can watch a lunar eclipse with your unaided eyes. Binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view dramatically.
The outer part of Earth's shadow, called the penumbra, creates only a slight dusky shading on the lunar disk. But as the Moon begins to move into the central and darkest part of Earth's shadow, the umbra, there's an obvious and ever-larger "bite" in the full Moon. The partial eclipse is then under way.
The total eclipse begins when the Moon is fully within the umbra. On March 3rd, totality lasts 1 hour 14 minutes. But the Moon likely won't disappear completely. It usually glows as an eerie, coppery red disk in the sky, as sunlight scattered around the edge of our atmosphere paints the lunar surface with a warm glow. This is light from all the sunrises and sunsets that are in progress around Earth at the time.
It's been 2½ years since the last total lunar eclipse, on October 27, 2004. The next one, on August 28, 2007, will favor skywatchers in western North America over those in the east.
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