Most of the Sidewalk astronomers are staying home, otherwise engaged, or
doing school or scouting events that aren't reliant on guaranteed
viewing tonight. We have been looking on Weather.com, or weather
underground and the forecast is cloud cover/poor transparent skies for
Pasadena and much of Southern California. Your eyes are the best
observing tool for lunar eclipses. So take a break from the football
games and check out the sky after 7:30p.m. that's when the first "bite"
will show. I like to sketch the moon, and one thing you could do is
draw some circles like the sketching example (on a sheet of paper
secured on a clipboard.) Fill in the amount of shadow you observe and
show the time you observe it below your sketch and draw or mark any
prominent features you see. I'll try to do the same at my scouting
Sketching example from Erika Rix publisshed in Astronomy Magazine:
Lunar features annotated
Here are times of key eclipse events:
before eclipse - note the features you see on the full moon
7:33 pm Moon enters the Earth’s inner shadow (first bite)
8:40 pm Totality begins (moon is covered in shadow)
9:12 pm Mid-eclipse
9:43 pm Totality ends (moon emerges from shadow)
10:51 pm Moon exits the earth's inner shadow
One or two astronomers may be on the corner of Myrtle and Lime from 7:30
- 8:30 or 9 tonight, to look for the moon through the expected clouds
and possibly aim binoculars if there are fleeting views. Don't make a
special trip, but if you are planning to walk around Monrovia tonight,
you may see an astronomer or two with binoculars, no promise of a
telescope. I don't think the astronomers will stay past the beginning
of totality at 8:40 p.m., so your best bet is to look up from your own
place if you can see the moon. Your eyes turn out to be the best
instrument for viewing lunar eclipses. I'm bringing binoculars and
wishful thinking to a girl scout event tonight.
From the Griffith Observatory announcement:
NOTE: The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye from anywhere in
southern California if skies are clear. You do not need a telescope.
It is safe to view a lunar eclipse without any eye protection.
Griffith Observatory has a warning about crowds, and traffic and lots of
great info here. If you plan on going, be prepared to either go several
hours before 7:30 p.m. or go late, and park miles away & walk.
There are other cool astronomical events coming up so don't let the
clouds dampen your stargazing enthusiasm!
See you all soon!
Jane Houston Jones
Astronomer, music lover, storyteller
NASA's January What's Up has not been posted due to partial gov't shutdown, sorry, but I'm retired!
We've been carefully watching the forecast for a couple days before
posting a go or no-go sidewalk astronomy decision for tonight, January
12th. But I think Gary's morning forecast note "Now says rain all day
until 6pm instead of being done around lunch, I think that seals the
fate of this evening." sums it up. Once again weather wins over sidewalk
astronomy, and we are cancelling sidewalk astronomy tonight.
But next Sunday there is a total lunar eclipse you'll be able to see
from home, any cloud free part of the Americas. For those easily
confused between UTC (Universal Time) and your local time, the eclipse
begins at 9: 12 PST and the totality portion is between 8:41 p.m. and
9:43 p.m. More details here, and you can change the location if you
aren't local to us here in LA.
As the week progresses and we return from a month of travel, we'll post
some viewing spots.
That's all from Jacksonville FL, gotta board my flight home now! Jane
Jane Houston Jones, JPL Retiree
Astronomer, music lover, JPL retiree
My Final What's Up Astronomy podcast #138: Dec 2018
Jane’s finale. An awesome comet https://go.nasa.gov/2DUnUsg
All 138 What’s Ups since 2007: https://go.nasa.gov/2usaBaB