Lunar eclipse to bleed in Utah sky early Tuesday
By Sheena McFarland
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Apr 12 2014 01:01AM
While many may be dreading April 15 and its tax deadline, that morning’s sky will offer Utahns quite the sight.
A total lunar eclipse will start about midnight and end early Tuesday morning.
Lunar eclipses occur only during full moons when the Earth moves between the sun and the moon, explained Ann House, vice president of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society.
"These eclipses are quite striking due to the moon’s vibrant red color during the total phase [called] totality," House said. "It is not to be missed."
That rust coloration is caused by light refracting off the Earth’s atmosphere, and it can make for dramatic optics. However, viewers need to be out of light-polluted cities to see the moon change color.
The Salt Lake Astronomical Society will hold two watch parties during the eclipse, which lasts several hours. At the party in Tooele, city lights should be far away enough to allow watchers to see that reddish hue.
Anyone wanting to see the eclipse should look to the sky starting Monday at 11:58 p.m. The moon will move closest to the center of the Earth’s shadow at 1:46 a.m. and totality will end at 2:25 a.m. The moon will be clear of the Earth’s shadow at 3:33 a.m., according to Seth Jarvis, director of Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City.
"While lunar eclipses are always interesting, this ‘bloody moon’ happens just a week after Mars is in opposition to Earth," Jarvis said. "Viewers will be treated to the red color the moon takes on when in Earth’s shadow, with the red planet adjacent to the moon."
The weather should cooperate in allowing the lunar show to go on, said Mike Seaman, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. A storm system is moving through this weekend, but high pressure will build Monday.
"We may have a few high clouds Monday night into Tuesday," he said, "but it looks pretty good."
Lunar eclipses happen fairly frequently, but they can’t be seen from everywhere on the planet. The next lunar eclipse visible from Utah will be Oct. 8.