CULLOWHEE – Western Carolina University will host a lunar eclipse viewing event outside at the Jackson County Airport from 1:30 to 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15.
Astronomy faculty from WCU will set up telescopes for viewing the eclipse, which will end at 4:30 a.m., and other astronomical objects including the planet Mars.
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon, Earth and the sun are aligned so that the shadow of the Earth is cast on the moon. The April lunar eclipse is a total eclipse, which means that the moon will be completely covered by the Earth’s shadow. Unlike total solar eclipses, when the moon comes in between the Earth and the sun, lunar eclipses can be viewed safely with the naked eye.
“Even though the moon is entirely within the Earth’s shadow it does not go completely dark,” said Enrique Gómez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at WCU. “Often the moon appears reddish in color because it is still receiving scattered light from every sunrise and sunset happening on Earth at that time.”
This will be the first total lunar eclipse visible from North America since 2011, said Gomez.
“In case you miss it, this will be the first of four consecutive lunar eclipses visible in our part of the world,” said Gomez. “Each is separated by about six months.”
The lunar eclipse viewing event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to dress warmly since the event will take place outside. If the evening is completely overcast, the event will be canceled.
Info: Gomez (828) 227-2718.