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Science Center will host a free lunar eclipse skywatch event


Last updated 9/21/2015 at 6:55pm

For the upcoming Lunar Eclipse, Carnegie Science Center is inviting all astronomy fans to watch the astronomical event at a special SkyWatch program. The program, on Sunday, Sept. 27, from 8:30 – 11:30 p.m., is free to the public.

Guests are invited to watch the lunar eclipse from the Science Center’s back lawn, located along the North Shore Riverwalk, to observe the phenomenon through telescopes. Buhl Planetarium staff will be on-site to guide guests and talk about the astronomical activity.

The event will take place only under clear skies. Visitors should call 412-237-3327 the night of the session to confirm.

The Sept. 27 total lunar eclipse will end an extraordinary series of four consecutive eclipses that were visible across North America during the last two years.

A total lunar eclipse occurs during a Full Moon when the entire Moon passes through Earth’s dark umbral or inner shadow. Once the Moon contacts the edge of the umbral shadow, it takes about an hour to become fully immersed in the shadow, at which point totality begins.

An eclipse does not occur every time there is a Full Moon because the Moon’s orbit around the Earth doesn’t lie exactly in the ecliptic, the plane in which the Earth orbits the Sun. The Moon’s orbit is inclined by about 5 degrees with respect to it. So, in the course of a month, the Moon travels above or below the Earth’s shadow.

First contact of the umbral shadow during the Sept. 27 eclipse occurs when the Moon is about 23 degrees above the east-southeastern horizon at 9:07 pm. Totality begins at 10:11 pm and ends at 11:23 pm. During totality, the Moon can take on array of colors from red to dark brown or bright orange. No special equipment or eye protection is required to view a lunar eclipse. Just go outside and look up.

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