Xerxes Wilson / Houma Courier
There will be good reason to look skyward early Tuesday morning.
Starting about 1 a.m., the moon will pass through the shadow of the earth in a full lunar eclipse. This type of eclipse, called a “blood moon,” will cast an eerie shadow on the moon as the sun, earth and moon align.
The exact hue will depend on what particles populate the upper atmosphere, or “how much volcanic dust, pollen and clouds” exist at that moment, said Ken Stage, owner of the St. George Observatory in Schriever.
Sunlight traveling through the earth’s atmosphere will begin to change the moon’s color at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, marking the beginning of the partial eclipse.
The moon will be closest to the center of earth’s shadow about an hour later. The color change will be most evident about 2:30 a.m. It should be over by 3:20 a.m.
Stage said the exact color depends on your perspective as you look through the atmosphere, recalling a time off the coast of Africa when the moon turned a bright yellow tinged with brown. That happened, he said, because light traveled through sand particles blown high into the atmosphere from the African desert.
“Everyone can enjoy this, just look up. You don’t need any equipment, just a clear sky,” Stage said.
Clouds could pose a problem for skygazers. There is an 80 percent chance of rain forecast for the evening.
This eclipse is the first of a so-called tetrad, which will see four full-lunar eclipses consecutively through September 2015. The next will be visible in North America in October.
Stage said a foreboding weather forecast is no excuse not to set an alarm and try to see the event for yourself.
“Don’t just look at pictures of it on the morning news,” Stage said. “There is nothing like the real thing. Get outside and look.”