There is another stellar event over Nebraska skies this Sunday. The Earth will pass between the moon and the moon and the sun giving us a spectacular view of a total lunar eclipse.
This isn’t the normal lunar eclipse. Krista Testin is the director of the Mallory Kountze Planetarium at the University of Nebraska – Omaha and says add to it a full super moon and blood moon.
Testin says, “Our ancient cultures used to think our moon was being eaten by monsters. We are going to see less and less of the moon over a half-hour, 45 minute period. It will also turn red in color.”
The term “blood moon” has recently become popular when referring to a total lunar eclipse. This term has no technical or astronomical basis and it is unclear where the description originated. Testin says, “It is the same reason why sunsets are pinkish-red. The molecules in our atmosphere scatter the light. You get rainbows. You get prisms. The same thing happens during the full moon. The light is mostly being blocked by Earth but you have our Earth’s atmosphere that a little light escapes around and bends. Those are the red wave lengths that end up still coming into contact with the moon making it appear orangish-red.”
The eclipse will start around 8:30 and peaks at 10:40 p.m. CST. It will end around 1:42 a.m. on January 21st.
UNO is opening their observatory and planetarium for viewing and will have several telescopes and binoculars available for viewing. Members of the Omaha Astronomical Society and UNO students will be available for questions. They also have activity classroom events for K-12 students. The event is free and open to the public.
This is one of several viewing opportunities statewide. The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department is offering viewing at Hyde Memorial Observatory at Holmes Lake.