Total Lunar Eclipse: November 8, 2003


Recent total lunar eclipses viewed in Atlanta:

L: March 13, 1997

R: Jan. 20-21, 2000

Photos: R. Williamon taken at Fernbank Science Center Observatory


An invitation from Dr. Richard Williamon,
Director of Emory's Planetarium and Observatory:


You may be one of the many who watched falling raindrops instead of a total lunar eclipse during our viewing attempt this past May. Nature, however, has kindly granted a second chance for 2003. During the early evening of Saturday, November 8, Atlantans will be treated to a well-placed total lunar eclipse. Unlike a solar eclipse, which is dangerous to view, an eclipse of the moon is perfectly safe. This is a "lawn chair" event that can be enjoyed by anyone. During the totality phase of the eclipse, the moon's disk will glow with a bright coppery color-weather permitting. This is one of nature's most spectacular sights.

Planetarium drop-in and telescopes set up from 7:00 PM until 10:00 PM. Location: Mathematics & Science Center, 400 Dowman Drive.

Although you can enjoy this event from your back yard, all members of the Emory community (faculty, staff, families, students and guests) are invited to drop into the planetarium between 7:00PM and 10:00PM. There, weather permitting, you will see two different live video feeds of the moon during the eclipse projected directly from our 24-inch telescope in the observatory above. (Weather permitting, of course; otherwise you will get to enjoy recently recorded video from the observatory). This is not a planetarium show and no RSVP is needed; just drop in to see the live Moon images as the eclipse takes place, and watch them as long as you want. Members of the physics department will be on hand for informal discussion.

We will also have smaller telescopes set up for your viewing pleasure. (We cannot offer views through the eyepiece of the 24-inch Casegrain telescope since it will be used for the live video imaging.)

During a total lunar eclipse, we can literally observe the motions of the Earth and moon as they travel through space. We will see the Earth's shadow being cast on the moon as it partially and then fully blocks the light coming from the sun

The totality phase of this eclipse will be unusually short as lunar eclipses go, lasting just 25 minutes. It will begin at 8:06 p.m. and will be over by about 8:30 PM. During this phase, the Earth is blocking most of the sun's light rays but it is when the moon should be the most colorful. Red light rays coming from the sun will bend around the Earth casting a warm-colored glow onto the moon's surface. We never know exactly what color the moon will become during an eclipse since this depends on the weather around the Earth where the sunlight is passing through. Some eclipses are "blood" red and others are dark and rather bluish in tint. Atmospheric conditions will determine what we see on the 8th! Even if you can't join us for the viewing, please be sure to go outside and see this beautiful sight.

During the evening, the physics department will supply a live signal from the 24-inch telescope to Emory television (Channel 28). So, those students too busy to venture into the observatory can still enjoy a close-up view of the moon during the eclipse. (Please remember that the image in the planetarium will be a much higher-quality picture than the television image.)

As we were so rudely reminded last May-- astronomical viewing is weather dependent. We'll try our best to schedule a clear evening, but not even the best telescope can see through clouds!


Total Lunar Eclipse Timetable


Eclipse stage:
Eastern Standard Time
Moon enters penumbra (slight shading)
5:15 PM
Partial eclipse begins (moon enters umbra)
6:32 PM
Total eclipse begins (moon totally within umbra)
8:06 PM
Total eclipse ends (moon begins to leave umbra)
8:30 PM
Partial eclipse ends (moon leaves umbra)
10:04 PM
Moon leaves penumbra (slight shading gone and so are the astronomers!)
11:22 PM


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