By Mario Carr
A red sky at night, is a sailor delight but what about a Full Moon that turns blood red?
This is what happens when there’s a Lunar Eclipse, and the next one will be April 15 at 3:42 a.m.
For many ancient cultures it spelled doom. They thought the Moon was swallowed by demons or animals. A Lunar Eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow crosses the face of the Full Moon.
The Moon turns a deep red by refracted light travelling through the Earth’s atmosphere. During a Total Lunar Eclipse, this change in color happens just before and after the Earth’s shadow completely blots out the Full Moon. During a Partial Lunar or Penumbra Eclipse, Earth’s shadow doesn’t completely cover the Moon and it just turns red.
A Total Lunar Eclipse is relatively rare. The last one that we could see was Dec. 2010. The next one will be Sept. 2015. The phenomenon was popularized by 80s’ singer Bonnie Tyler, who performed Total Eclipse of the Heart. If you’ve never seen a Lunar Eclipse, make sure you don’t miss this one. It might make a great gathering of friends, or a romantic rendezvous with your significant other.
Here are April stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.
Mercury vanishes from the morning sky mid-month. Venus can be seen in the eastern morning sky. Jupiter can be seen in the western evening sky, setting after midnight. Mars rises in the east at sunset. Saturn rises late evening. Neptune can be seen through a telescope in the eastern dawn sky.
April 6 – The Moon is below Jupiter.
April 7 – First Quarter Moon
April 8 – Mars is at opposition, rising at sunset in the east and setting west at sunrise. It’s also at its brightest. Look for Mars as a bright orange star.
April 11 – Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Spectator building, 44 Frid St., Hamilton. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected. Speaker will be member Leslie Webb, who will discuss Obstacles in Visual Astronomy.
April 14 – Mars is closest to the Earth at 92.4 million km.
April 16 – The Moon is extremely close to Saturn at .4 degrees in the late night sky.
April 22 – Last Quarter Moon. Lyrid meteor shower peaks.
April 25 – The Crescent Moon is above Venus in the dawn sky.
For more information, please see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at http://www.amateurastronomy.org or call (905) 627-4323. If you would like to learn more about the night sky, the club offers a basic astronomy course for members.
Mario Carr is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at email@example.com.