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Tonight’s the night for first total lunar eclipse of 2014 and closest Mars has been in six years


The earth's umbra is the fully shaded inner region of the moon's shadow. The earth's penumbra is the outer region which is partially shaded by the moon's shadow. (Photo from NASA)

The earth’s umbra is the fully shaded inner region of the moon’s shadow. The earth’s penumbra is the outer region which is partially shaded by the moon’s shadow. (Photo from NASA)

 
For lunar eclipse fans, today’s the day … or rather, tonight’s the night. The first of two total lunar eclipses in 2014 will take place in the wee hours of the morning on April 15.
 
It is well placed for observers in the Western Hemisphere. The eclipse occurs, according to NASA, “at the lunar orbit’s ascending node in Virgo.” The diameter of the moon is close to its average tonight and the eclipse will occur nearly halfway between the moon’s apogee when it is furthest from the earth and its perigee when it is closest to the earth.
 
The total phase of the lunar eclipse is expected to last 78 minutes, go through 12 stages and begin at 2:01 a.m. The entire eclipse will be visible from both North and South America, but observers in the western Pacific miss the first half because it will happen before moonrise. Those in Northern and Eastern Europe, Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia will miss it altogether.
 
Watch Jason Lindsey, KyForward’s Science Guy, discuss the lunar eclipse:
 

 

To watch the lunar eclipse live, go to space.com. In addition, the planet Mars will come closest to the earth since 2008 beginning at 10 p.m. and can be viewed on a free Slooh community telescope webcast also on space.com.
 
The second total lunar eclipse is scheduled for Oct. 8.
 
From NASA


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