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article imageLunar eclipse visible from western North America on Saturday

By Albert Baer     Dec 6, 2011 in Science
Skywatchers in western North American who rise early on Saturday will get a chance to see this month’s total lunar eclipse. A total lunar eclipse will be visible in the early morning hours on Saturday, Dec. 10.
Normally, we see the moon as it reflects light from the Sun. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow, such that sunlight is blocked from reaching the moon. Since this can only happen when the moon, the Earth, and the Sun are lined up, these eclipses always occur when the moon is full.
Aligning his camera on the same star for nine successive exposures  Sky & Telescope contributing pho...
Aligning his camera on the same star for nine successive exposures, Sky & Telescope contributing photographer Akira Fujii captured this record of the Moon’s progress dead center through the Earth’s shadow in July 2000. Credit: Sky & Telescope / Akira Fujii
Sky & Telescope / Akira Fujii
Observers will see the eclipse begin early in the morning, with the first signs of the Earth’s shadow moving across the face of the moon at 4:45 a.m. PST. Over the course of the next couple of hours the Earth’s shadow will creep across the moon’s surface, until the moon is fully covered. Total eclipse will begin at 6:05 a.m. PST, and mid-eclipse occurs at 6:32 a.m. PST. At the height of the eclipse, the moon will take on a reddish-orange hue, due to the traces of sunlight reaching it by passing through the Earth’s atmosphere – the same effect that causes red sunsets. The total eclipse will end at 6:57 a.m PST, while the final traces of the Earth’s shadow will not pass until about an hour and a half later, after the Moon has set below the horizon.
How much of the dawn lunar eclipse will be visible for you? For your location  this map tells what s...
How much of the dawn lunar eclipse will be visible for you? For your location, this map tells what stage the eclipse will have progressed to by the time the Moon sets below your west-northwestern horizon. The Sun rises right around the same time an eclipsed Moon sets. This means the sky will have been growing brighter and brighter up to then. (Dawn begins about an hour and a half before sunrise). Credit: Sky & Telescope
Sky & Telescope magazine
Observers in the northwest will be able to see the whole eclipse. Observers to the east will see the moon set below the horizon earlier during the eclipse – the further east, the earlier it sets.
The next partial eclipse of the moon will occur in June 2012, and the next total lunar eclipse will not happen until April of 2014.
Materials provided by Sky & Telescope.
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