Observatory open during total eclipse

Mackenzie Freund, City Editor

Eastern’s physics observatory will be holding a special open house Sunday for the total lunar eclipse.

The observatory holds an open house on the last Friday of every month where people can come and learn about space, but Sunday is a special event because the total lunar eclipse will be happening.

The eclipse is the second to happen this year. The first one was on April 4.

During a total eclipse, the moon gets completely covered in the Earth’s shadow, and turns bright red.

Lauren Horn, a senior physics major, said the total eclipse does not happen often, and the next one may not be seen in America.

Horn said the physics department is expecting a lot of people to come out to the total eclipse Sunday.

When there is a total eclipse, the moon will go through the partial phases before the total eclipse happens.

According to www.mreclipse.com, the moon is red during a lunar eclipse because the Earth’s atmosphere bends the light from the sun, giving the moon a look from bright red to a dark brown.

Horn said the moon will begin to turn red after the crescent part of the moon phases.

“It will look like the moon is slowly being engulfed by fire,” Horn said. “It kind of looks like Mars at its peak.”

According to www.mreclipse.com, the eclipse is estimated to last about three hours and 20 minutes, with the total eclipse lasting about one hour and 12 minutes.

The observatory has a telescope they use to look at the moon and stars.

Horn said the telescope has a small field of view and will only show parts of the moon.

The total lunar eclipse can be seen by the naked eye and does not need any eye protection, as someone would need if they wanted to witness a solar eclipse.

Horn said people could bring their own telescopes or binoculars to watch the total eclipse Sunday.

The observatory was built in 2004 with donated funds from alumni and friends and houses a telescope that is controlled by a computer for “positioning and data acquisition,” according to Eastern’s website.

The observatory is located between O’Brien Field and the intramural softball fields on the southwest side of campus.

The Friday open house will begin around 8 p.m. Friday and the open house for the total eclipse is planned to start at 7 p.m. Sunday.

According to www.mreclipse.com, the next lunar eclipse after Sunday will be January 31, 2018 and should be seen in North America.


Mackenzie Freund can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]