Friday, March 02, 2007

That's amore

At the end of the day on Saturday, go outside and face east. Then throw your coat in the trash and get into the fountain. Okay, just kidding about those last two instructions. Seriously though, if you are on the eastern side of the US (or in various parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia) go outside just before sunset and look east.

As the sun sets and the moon rises there will be a total lunar eclipse - meaning that the moon will move through the Earth's shadow.

What will this look like to us? Well, if the moon is in the Earth's shadow then light from the sun won't be able to reach the moon. The moon doesn't generate any light of its own; it glows at night because it is reflecting sunlight. If sunlight doesn't reach the moon it will look black.

But there is a catch. As light from the sun travels through the Earth's atmosphere it scatters. Some of this scattered light will reach the moon even during a total lunar eclipse. This light will be mostly red and orange (for the same reason the sky is blue) and so the moon will have a reddish glow during the eclipse.

If that's not a good enough reason to go outside and look east, I don't know what is.

1 comment:

  1. OK. Went out and looked East. After a bit, went back inside, brushed the accumulated snow off of the shoulders and hat.

    But one of the locals did manage to snap a shot through a sucker hole.

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