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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Southwest observers will have good seat for total eclipse of moon Nov. 8

Residents of New Mexico should have a dramatic view of a total eclipse of the moon on Saturday, Nov. 8, says a New Mexico State University astronomer.

gh the eclipse should be observable throughout the United States, our clear dark skies should provide a particularly interesting show for Southwestern observers," said Kurt Anderson, a professor of astronomy at NMSU.

The lunar eclipse will be well under way when the full moon rises at 5:08 p.m.

Anderson said the total part of the eclipse will last over 24 minutes beginning at 6:06 p.m. with the moon being low in the eastern sky. Mid-eclipse will be at 6:19 p.m. and the total part of the eclipse will end at 6:31 p.m.

During the eclipse, the moon will probably assume a reddish hue because of sunlight refracted by the Earth's atmosphere.

"Watchers should note the curved shadow of the Earth moving across the face of the moon," Anderson said. "The shape of this shadow is proof of the Earth's sphericity, as pointed out by Aristotle in about 350 B.C."

The eclipse actually starts at 3:15 p.m. when the full moon enters the penumbral shadow of the Earth. The umbral part of the eclipse starts at 4:32 p.m.

Anderson said during the penumbral part of the eclipse the Earth, as seen from the moon, blocks out only a portion of the sun's light. This part of the eclipse is not very noticeable to earthbound observers even at night, and it appears as a progressive dimming of the moon's brightness. As the moon enters the Earth's umbral shadow, observers will see the sharp edge of this darker shadow of Earth begin to move across the face of the moon, beginning on the moon's eastern edge. The umbra is the part of the shadow within which an astronaut on the moon would see the Earth completely covering the sun.

No telescopes or binoculars will be needed to observe the event.