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Lunar Eclipse

May 15, 2003, 4:41 PM by Brian Karstens

Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse is on the horizon tonight, but the big question, will people in KELOLAND be able to see it?

It looks like the pesky low clouds that have been hanging around Sioux Falls much of the day will decrease this evening making for good viewing for a sight that comes around every few years.

This is what the last lunar eclipse looked like on a cold January evening three years ago. This time the weather will much nicer to witness the celestial event.

The partial eclipse begins tonight at 9:03 Central, 8:03 Mountain. At first the moon will appear bright as usual. But during the first hour of the event, the moon will plunge into the darkest part of the earth's shadow called "the umbra."

The moon will enter the part of the eclipse called "totality" at 10:14 and last just under an hour. At that time, the earth's shadow will completely cover the moon.

How dark and red the moon gets tonight during the eclipse depends on what's floating around in the earth's atmosphere. Dust storms and volcanoes eruptions can fill the air with the particles needed to produce the red effect. Here in KELOLAND, we may not see that.

Partial lunar eclipse happen about twice a year, but total eclipses, like the one that will happen tonight, are more rare because usually the sun, moon and earth are not in a straight line, so the moon doesn?t pass through the earth?s shadow. But when the earth and moon are aligned, the full moon passes through the earth?s shadow, creating tonight's event.

And keep in mind that unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye. If you miss this one, mark your calendars for November 8th, that's when we'll see the next partial eclipse here in KELOLAND, weather permitting.

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