January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Get Ready for October’s Two Eclipses

Posted: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Robert Victor

There are two eclipses in October 2014. First is a total lunar eclipse in the predawn hours of Wednesday, October 8. (Set your alarm when you turn in for the night on October 7.) Owing to the unfortunate timing of this lunar eclipse during early predawn hours, the event might not be widely seen by elementary school students. (A brief total lunar eclipse on April 4, 2015, centered on 5:00 a.m. PDT, may be somewhat more convenient to observe. The lunar eclipse on the evening of September 27, 2015 will be just about perfect for public viewing in California, with the Moon in partially eclipse as it rises around sunset; in total eclipse during 7:11-8:23 p.m. PDT; and out of the umbra by 9:27 p.m.)

Here are the times for the various stages of the October 8, 2014 lunar eclipse for the Pacific Time Zone. Moon’s position in the sky is given for Palm Springs, CA.

Stage of eclipse       Time                 Moon’s Azimuth Altitude

Moon enters umbra   2:15 a.m. PDT                  227°         52°

Total eclipse begins   3:25 a.m. PDT                   245°         41°

Deepest eclipse         3:55 a.m. PDT                   251°         35°

Total eclipse ends     4:24 a.m. PDT                   256°       29°

Moon leaves umbra   5:34 a.m. PDT                 267°       16°

During totality in Palm Springs, CA, Uranus (mag. 5.7) should be visible in binoculars nearly 1.0° to the left or lower left of the center of the eclipsed Moon. A medium to high power telescope reveals the planet’s disk, 3.7 arcseconds across.

October’s second eclipse is a partial solar event in the afternoon on Thursday, October 23.

I recommend that teachers order quantities of solar eclipse viewers for students soon, instead of waiting until fall, when supplies might run out. Hand-held eclipse viewers and eclipse glasses to be worn like regular eyeglasses are available from Rainbow Symphony. Both styles are identically priced and employ the same filter materials. The minimum quantity for those items is 25 count, at 85 cents each. There is a discount for quantity orders. For more information, and to order, go to www.rainbowsymphonystore.com and click on eclipse shades.

The viewers can be recycled for future eclipses! In the next 10 years there will be three more solar eclipses visible from California:

2017 Aug. 21 (total in narrow track across U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina)

2023 Oct. 14 (annular in track across Oregon, NE corner of California, Nevada, Utah, Four Corners, New Mexico, Texas, Central America, to Brazil)

2024 Apr. 8 (total in wide track across Mexico, Texas to Maine, Maritime Provinces of Canada, Newfoundland)

These filters can also be used to check for sunspots. Very large ones would be visible through the filter.

The times of the eclipse stages depends on your location. In California, the Oct. 23 solar eclipse gets underway with first contact of the Moon’s disk at the edge of the solar disk occurring just after 1:40 p.m. PDT in the northwest corner of the state, to 2:19 p.m. in the southeast corner. Deepest eclipse occurs at 3:06 p.m. in the northwest corner, to 3:36 p.m. in the southeast. Last contact, marking the end of the eclipse, occurs at 4:25 p.m. in the northwest corner of California, to 4:44 p.m. in the southeast.

In Palm Springs, the eclipse begins at 2:12 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk makes first contact with the upper right edge of the Sun’s disk. Greatest eclipse for Palm Springs occurs at 3:31 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk covers the upper right portion of the Sun’s disk, the Moon covering 45 percent of the solar diameter, or 33 percent of the disk area. From Palm Springs, the eclipse ends at 4:41 p.m. PDT, as the Moon’s disk makes last contact with the upper left edge of the solar disk.

During the eclipse in Palm Springs, the Sun will be sinking through the southwestern sky, at an altitude ranging from 38° at the start of the event, to 15° at the end.

Here are further details about the Oct. 23 eclipse for Palm Springs.

First contact: 2:12.1 p.m. PDT, Moon first appears at upper right edge of Sun’s disk, 66 degrees clockwise from the top of the disk, near the “2 o’clock” position. Sun’s position in sky: Azimuth 213 degrees, altitude 38 degrees.

Greatest eclipse: 3:31.1 p.m. PDT, Moon’s disk covers 45 percent of diameter of Sun’s disk, or 33 percent of its area. The upper right portion of the Sun will be covered, centered at the point 25 degrees clockwise from the top of the disk, near the “1 o’clock” edge, leaving the 7 o’clock side most exposed. Position in sky: Azimuth 232 degrees, altitude 28 degrees.

Last contact: 4:41.5 p.m. PDT, Moon leaves the Sun at upper left edge of solar disk, 22 degrees counterclockwise from the top of the disk, roughly near the “11 o’clock” position. Position in sky: Azimuth 244 degrees, altitude 15 degrees.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.