Merrillville Community Planetarium
Bringing the Universe to the Merrillville Schools and Northwest Indiana

Total Lunar Eclise Rises on Saturday, March 3 as Sun Sets


Weather permitting, observers in Northwest Indiana will be able to observe a total lunar eclipse as the moon rises in the east on the evening of Saturday, March 3. Our next total eclipse of the moon will be as the moon sets on the morning of August 28, 2007.
The partial eclipse begins at 3:30 p.m. before the moon rises for our location. The total por-tion of the eclipse starts at 4:44 p.m. The moon rises at 5:38 p.m. and the sun sets about four minutes later. The total eclipse ends at 5:58 p.m. and the partial eclipse ends at 7:11 p.m.
No special preparations are required to observe the lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse is safe and easy to observe with the unaided eye. If the sky is mostly clear, the eclipse will be easily visible. Even if the sky is partly or mostly cloudy at the beginning of the evening, glimpses of the moon may be visible during latter portions of the eclipse.
Viewing of the eclipse can be greatly enhanced by using binoculars. Observers should try to watch the moon at the beginning of moonrise and then follow the dark shadow of Earth as it moves across the craters and features of the moon. By using a tripod and camera with a tele-photo lens, it is possible to photograph the eclipse.
As the moon orbits Earth, the moon sometimes passes through the shadow of our planet. When this occurs, the surface of the moon gradually becomes dark. The lunar eclipse may be partial or total depending upon the position of the sun, Earth, and moon.
Lunar eclipses are different from solar eclipses in several ways. First, lunar eclipses occur at night, while solar eclipses occur during the day. Second, lunar eclipses occur when the moon is full; solar eclipses occur when the moon phase is new. Third, lunar eclipses are visible from a wide portion of Earth, while solar eclipses can be observed only along very narrow paths. Finally, lunar eclipses can be observed safely with the naked eye; solar eclipses require precautions to avoid injury to the eye.
For more information on the eclipse, contact the planetarium at (219) 650-5486 or visit our website at www.mcpstars.org. The MerrillĀ¬ville Community Planetarium is located in Clif-ford Pierce Middle School at 199 East 70th Avenue in Merrillville, Indiana.