Plan to stay up – or set your alarm – for an awesome early-morning sight
You never know how the skies will be over Northeast Ohio. But if they’re clear, get ready to get treated to a fantastic view of a rare natural spectacle this spring – and consider coming to your International Dark Sky Park to enjoy it!
Over the course of a few hours the night of Monday, April 14, through Tuesday, April 15, the Earth’s shadow will darken the full moon in an alignment called a total lunar eclipse.
Observatory Park Astronomy Naturalist (Astro-Nat) Chris Mentrek will be following the eclipse all night at Observatory Park, offering the public a telescope view of the moon’s transformation from Monday at 8 p.m. till Tuesday at 5 a.m.
The only down side will be the most awesome part’s timing, says Chris.
“The entire eclipse lasts a bit more than five hours, beginning about 1 a.m., and the moon will be ‘totally eclipsed’ for about an hour and 17 minutes, starting from about 3 a.m., with the maximum about 3:45 a.m.,” Chris said.
“Personally, I think the best part of the show will be between 1:58 and 3:06 a.m. when the moon passes into the umbra, the darkest portion of the earth’s shadow. That’s when you’ll truly get the sense that something’s swallowed up the moon!”
We are actually heading into an “eclipse season,” Chris also explained, where the orbits of Earth and its moon are just about lined up, resulting in four eclipses in one year, any two of which can be seen from half of the planet.
The April 2014 total lunar eclipse is the first since 2011, which also means that it’s the first one since Geauga Park District opened Observatory Park! The next one will be October 8, but we won’t get to see much of it from Ohio. Then, on October 23, when Earth has moved around to the other side of the sun, Ohio will get to see a partial solar eclipse, which should be another amazing show.
Tips for Successful Viewing:
The eclipse happens technically in the very early hours of Tuesday morning. If you go out at sunset on Tuesday, you’ll be a day late.
A total lunar eclipse can only happen during a full moon. The full moon will ride about 7:45 p.m., but the eclipse itself won’t begin until after midnight, about 1 a.m.
Want a preview? Attend the Eclipses program at Observatory Park on Friday, April 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. to learn all about the lunar and solar eclipses of 2014! An indoor planetarium presentation will be followed by night sky observation using park telescopes, weather permitting.
Observatory Park is located at 10610 Clay Street in Montville Township. Registration is not required to enjoy the eclipse any time of the night. Call 440-286-9516 during regular business hours with questions.