Harvest Moon Eclipse Tonight
October 18, 2013

Unusual Harvest Moon Eclipse Tonight

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Tonight the Harvest Moon, or "Hunter's Moon," will be offering up a show for sky gazers as the full moon heads into a penumbral eclipse. The moon will be gliding through the Earth's shadow at 7:50 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, during which its southern limb will be a quarter of a lunar diameter away from the unseen edge of Earth's umbra.

This type of eclipse often goes unnoticed by observers, but since one part of the Moon will be illuminated by a mostly-blacked out Sun covered up by the Earth, the opposite edge will experience full sunlight. These conditions should make this eclipse particularly unusual.

The US and some Asian countries will be able to see the eclipse at moon rise, while Europe, Africa and Brazil will be able to see all of the eclipse. However, those who decide to stay indoors tonight instead can watch Slooh's live coverage of the event.

“Although a penumbral lunar eclipse might go unnoticed by someone casually glancing at the Moon, we will be able to observe the gradual shading of the Moon in the live images Slooh will broadcast throughout the eclipse," Paul Cox, who will be narrating the event, said in a statement. "The shading becomes far more apparent when viewed as a time-lapse, and we’ll show viewers that during the live segment of the show.”

The "Hunter's Moon," or "Harvest Moon," is the traditional term for full moons occurring in the fall. This full moon is unique because the time difference between moonrises on successive evenings is much shorter on average. The moon rises about 30 minutes later from one night to the next.

Hunter's Moon isn't just unique for its moon rise time, but is also unique for the folklore that surrounds the event.

"Many imagine that mental health waxes and wanes with the lunar phases," astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. "But admissions to mental hospitals and calls to crisis centers show there's no periodicity with the full Moon.”

Slooh will be providing the live broadcast for the entire duration of the eclipse, which will last about four hours and 10 minutes. Slooh's Community Observatory will be tracking the moon with its Canary Islands Half-Meter telescope, showing real-time views.