Walking out my north facing front door and turning 90 degrees right and about 60 or so degrees up from the horizon, I see the moon being eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow. Viewing with my 8 x 40 binoculars, the eclipse is simply amazing. Since the temperature in my part of Illinois is 14 degrees F with a 4 degree wind chill, I am running outside for only minutes at a time and then coming back inside.

The eclipse is about 7/8 of the way through right now. The dark part on the left side of the moon is a light color of brown contrasted by the bright white in the 1/8 uneclipsed part in the upper right side of the moon. The time is 8:44pm CST.

There is just a sliver of white left now. The lower left of the moon is a reddish color which fades as the shadow stretches out to reach the white light. As it does so, the red fades away to brown and then light brown. The transition of color is, dare I use the word, awesome. The moon at this stage reminds me of Mars, the red planet, with an ice cap visible. There is no ice cap though, it is an illusion which consists of the last remnant of bright white light left before the moon is covered by the Earth’s shadow. The time is 8:55pm CST.

The moon is now fully eclipsed at 9:01pm CST. I’m trying to decide what Danjon scale number  I would assign to it, which is a very subjective exercise. I’m guessing it is probably an L4, the highest value that can be assigned to describe its brightness and color.

Saturn appears as a bright star to the lower left of the moon and Regulus appears above the moon. Regulus is in the constellation Leo which is to the left of the moon from where I am viewing. It has been a great night for viewing. The moon at this point is still in Earth’s shadow.

There is still time to go outside and take a look if you haven’t yet done so.

Two lunar eclipses in 2003; their ratings on the Danjon Scale would be roughly 2 (left) and 4 (right)Photo from Wikipedia.org

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