Maui News

Total Lunar Eclipse Monday — And Weather Forecast’s Hopeful

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By Dave Smith

A total lunar eclipse as seen from Washington in 2004. US Navy photo.

A total lunar eclipse as seen from Washington in 2004. US Navy photo.

If the clouds cooperate – and the National Weather Service is serving up some hope here — a total lunar eclipse will be visible tonight from Maui.

In Hawaii, the eclipse will begin at 7:58 p.m. and end at 11:33 p.m., with totality between 9:06 p.m. and 10:24 p.m., the Bishop Museum’s J. Watamull Planetarium said.

Full moon in Hawaii is at 9:43 p.m.

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The National Weather Service is calling for clear skies tonight, with ideal viewing conditions over leeward areas.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the sun and moon, and the moon enters the Earth’s shadow.

Since this will be a total eclipse, the shadow will gradually encroach upon the moon until it completely covers it. At that point the moon often appears red, because our atmosphere, which extends about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface, filters out some of the sun’s spectrum of light.

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In essence, the green to violet portion of the spectrum is removed, while the reddish portion is least affected.

The reddish light is also bent or refracted toward the Earth as it passes through our atmosphere, which pushes it onto the moon’s surface.

According to EarthSky.org, the degree of redness depends on atmospheric conditions including dust, humidity and temperature, giving it a hue that ranges from copper-colored to deep red.

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Dust sent into the atmosphere from the 1991-92 eruption of Mount Pinatubo made the December 1992 lunar eclipse difficult to see, EarthSky.org said.

Another lunar eclipse will be visible from Hawaii in October.

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