Lunar Eclipse Will Offer Rare Show In The Night Sky
Jan. 17, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Wes Hamilton
While many are looking forward to the holiday weekend as a chance to have an extra day away from work or school, star gazers are anticipating it for another reason.
On Sunday Jan. 20, the “Super Wolf Blood Moon” will appear in the sky over the United States. This eclipse event will partially begin around 9:30 p.m., with the full eclipse lasting from around 10:40 p.m. to 11:40 p.m. central time.
During the full eclipse, the moon will appear to be a reddish color, that is where the phrase “Blood Moon,” comes from. SHSU students may be a bit biased, but this blood moon will almost appear to be Bearkat orange at some points.
"Every time you have a total lunar eclipse the way the light goes through Earth’s atmosphere, it filters out the blues, so you see this reddish haze on the moon,” said Renee James, SHSU Observational Astronomy professor. “Everyone in the United States is going to get a good shot of this assuming the weather is nice.”
Unlike other cosmic events, this one is close to home and available for all to see with the naked eye. This will be the last total lunar eclipse until May of 2021, and the only one visible in North America until 2022.
“What is nice about lunar eclipse events is that you don’t have to be in an observatory, or have a powerful telescope or special equipment,” James said. “It is the moon. You step outside and you can see this event easily in the sky.”
While the “Super Wolf Blood Moon” eclipse is a rare treat, there are other events available for Bearkat star-gazers every month thanks to the SHSU Observatory and Planetarium run by SHSU alumnus Michael Prokosch.
“Mike would live out at the observatory if you gave him a chance,” James said. “He is, without a doubt, the single biggest reason we have such an active Observatory and Planetarium and deserves recognition for his efforts.”
James encourages students to look up and wonder more often. Even after 20 years at SHSU, James gets excited to see students learn new things about the night’s sky every semester in her Intro to Astronomy and Stars and Galaxies classes.
“This time of year gives me inspiration,” James said. “Everything is new to the students. Every single class somebody has an epiphany about what they have been seeing in the sky their entire lives. It is fun to see it click, and hear the students ask more questions.”
Meanwhile, the field of Astronomy leaves James also asking questions and constantly learning more.
“Every day something will roll into my inbox about a new discovery,” James said. “Sometimes, those discoveries will end up changing a fundamental piece of my class. So it is a field that requires constant research and it keeps me on my toes. Every semester is something new.”
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