How you can prepare for this weekends Total Lunar Eclipse
There is a total lunar eclipse coming up this Sunday night, January 20th, beginning around 7:30pm and ending about an hour after midnight. (AZ MTN; GMT-7)
This event will take place at the same time for all observers on Earth. What you call that time will depend on the timezone in which you are viewing.
I’ll be watching the eclipse in Arizona. Here is some of the information I’ve gathered to help me prepare to enjoy the eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse Timings
|Civil Twilight Ends||17:59|
|Astro Twilight Ends||19:02|
|Penumbral Eclipse Begins||19:36:29|
|Partial Eclipse Begins||20:33:54|
|Full Eclipse Begins||21:41:17|
|Full Eclipse Ends||22:43:15|
|Partial Eclipse Ends||23:50:39|
|Penumbral Eclipse Ends||0:48:02|
Finding dark sky
One of the best things you can do when watching a lunar eclipse (or any astronomical event, really) is to find some dark sky, as far from light pollution as possible.
You may be wondering, “How does light pollution refract off atmospheric dust to cloud my view of the night sky?” To which I’d say, “More or less like that, you answered your own question. Good job!”
Light pollution is caused by bright light sources shining up into the atmosphere and refracting off particulates in the air, causing the air to appear cloudy. This in turn means fewer stars will be visible.
The Stars Come Out
The difference in the number of visible stars between full moon and full eclipse is staggering. It’s more or less the same difference between seeing the sky on a moonless night vs seeing one during the full moon. The full moon lights up the atmosphere enough to drown out a lot of the stars. This effect is noticeable but takes a couple weeks to oscillate.
My favorite tool for finding a good area with dark sky is http://darksitefinder.com/map/. This interactive map allows you to see major cities and the fall off from their light pollution. I utilize this tool to easily, visually, find areas of darkest sky.
During a lunar eclipse, however, this effect can be seen oscillating over the course of just a few hours and is stunning to watch. I’m very much looking forward to seeing just a handful of stars in a blue sky, the watching as the moon falls into earths shadow, the sky darkens, and many more stars come out. The contrast will be exciting to witness.
Wear Layers of Warm Clothing
Lunar eclipses happen at night. That’s how the geometry works. I mean it is possible that a lunar eclipse could occur while you are on the daytime side of Earth, but in that case you will not be able to see the eclipse take place. (As Occured for Arizonans in July 2018)
That being said, you should make sure to dress warmly. One good way to stay warm is by building layers of clothing. Have a good pair of wool socks, thermal base layer, and a wind-proof outer shell. Coverings for your ears and hands will also be helpful and for the extra touch, consider using hand warmers.
My Past Lunar Eclipse Experiences
This will be the 3rd time I’ve chased a lunar eclipse with the intent of photographing it. Check out the results from my other lunar eclipse trips:
Joshua Tree 2018
Bloody Basin 2014
Grab a Thermos full of your hot beverage of choice, a picnic blanket, sleeping bag, plenty of warm clothes, and your favorite cuddle buddy, and head out to an area of dark sky to enjoy this relatively rare celestial event. And tell me how it went for you in the comments below.
Check Back Here For Updates
I’ll be out chasing the eclipse this weekend. My plan is to capture 2 timelapse sequences. I’ll be uploading them as soon as they are ready to share, so be sure to follow my blog or