Astronomy group captures images of total lunar eclipse

Thursday, February 21, 2008 | 8:08 p.m. CST; updated 7:07 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
The first two images both include Saturn, at lower left, and the star Regulus (in Leo) at upper left.

COLUMBIA — Sky watchers lucked out Wednesday night when a dismal forecast for cloud cover failed to materialize, giving star gazers clear skies for the last total lunar eclipse visible in Missouri until December 2010. The Central Missouri Astronomical Association hosted a viewing party to give people an opportunity to a view the eclipse from the top of the MU Physics Building.

A lunar eclipse happens when the sun, the Earth, and the moon are all in line. The Earth causes a shadow on the moon, producing red-orange hues. Because there hasn't been a recent volcanic eruption, the moon was not darkened by ash in the atmosphere, but rather appeared with vividly red and light oranges throughout the night.

Val Germann, president of the astronomical association, provided these photos:

This image "shows the moon a little earlier, with what I call the 'Chinese lantern' effect, looking self-luminous. Very beautiful," Germann said.
The moon at mid-eclipse, about 9:30 pm. "Since the moon barely got inside the Earth's umbra, or innner shadow, it is increasingly red as you look from lower right to upper left," Germann said.

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