If we get a break in the clouds tonight, the moon over Colorado will appear eerily orange during a total lunar eclipse, said experts at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Sommers-Bausch Observatory and Fiske Planetarium.
The eclipse will begin when the moon, which is now full, enters the Earth's shadow.
Given the right weather conditions, people in the state will notice the eclipse when the moon enters the dark part of the Earth's
shadow at about 9:14 p.m., said Doug Duncan, director of the
Fiske Planetarium and Sommers-Bausch Observatory.
The moon will be totally eclipsed at about 9:40 p.m.
"The shadow of the Earth has a really dark part and a light
part of it," Duncan said. "The dark part of the shadow is what you
will most notice as it moves across the moon. And it's during that
time the moon will take on a blood-red or orange color."
He said most of the sunlight is blocked out by the
Earth's shadow, but some light "leaks" around the rim of the Earth still manages to fall on the moon, giving it the unusual color
seen during an eclipse.
"When sunlight goes through the Earth's atmosphere, the blue
light tends to scatter sideways, making the sky blue," Duncan said.
"The red and orange light continues on, making the moon look orange.
So if someone asks you why the moon is red, you should tell them it's
because the sky is blue,:
"Virtually all of America, where it is dark, is going to be
able to look up at the moon at the same time and see this eclipse
happen," he said.
Duncan added that exactly how dark and colorful the moon
appears varies from eclipse to eclipse.
"But they always look really eerie, and they're wonderful
things to see," he said.
Sommers-Bausch Observatory will be open to the
public from 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. for eclipse viewing. Visitors also
will be able to view the eclipse from the west side of the
planetarium, where binoculars and telescopes will be available. There
is no charge to visit the planetarium and the observatory to view the
For more information call (303) 492-5002 or visit the
planetarium's Web site at Fiske Planetarium or the
observatory's Web site at Sommers-Bausch Observatory.