April 3, 2020

Astronomy Video Of the Week: An Eclipse Time Lapse

Totality. Image credit: NASA/Griffith Observatory

Miss this past weekend’s total lunar eclipse? Yeah, us too, as we found ourselves in Maine, the only state that missed out on even partial phases of the April 4th total lunar eclipse. But skies were clear Saturday morning across western North America, affording observers fine views of the eclipse.

This was the shortest duration for totality for the century, at less than five minutes. Incidentally, there’s some lingering controversy as to whether this eclipse was total at all, as the northern limb of the Moon stayed fairly bright throughout the central part of the eclipse.

But whether you saw this one as a brief total, or merely a deep partial lunar eclipse, it’s still fascinating to watch the entire 3 hour 30 minute long event compressed in to one minute courtesy of the folks at the Griffith Observatory:

You can see not only the limb of the Earth’s shadow, but just how hazy and indistinct the edge of the Earth’s umbra really is. Alas, Easter and Passover came and went, and no zombie apocalypse resulting from a ‘blood moon’ ensued. This lunar eclipse was the third in a series of four known as a tetrad that spans 2014 and 2015. We’ve got one more lunar eclipse on deck for this year on September 28th, 2015, again favoring North America.

It almost seems like total lunar eclipses are commonplace now, as we’ve been enjoying one every six months!

-Next Week: Watch live as SpaceX heads to the International Space Station with Dragon and the CRS-6 mission!


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