Total Eclipse Of Moon Tonight

Red Moon Visible If Skies Break

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 eclipse.

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.

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