LUNAR ECLIPSE FEBRUARY 20: ONE MORE DAY TO GO:
As has been previously mentioned, the last total eclipse of the Moon visible from North America until 2010 will be coming up tomorrow night. Here in Central Standard Time the partial eclipse will begin at 19:43, the total eclipse will begin at 21:01 and end at 21:50, and the partial eclipse will end at 23:08. See previous posts on this blog in our archives for January and February of this year (search 'Lunar eclipse') for more on the timing and how to convert to your own time zone.
The Environment Canada weather office site predicts clear conditions for tomorrow and the day after. You can check the general weather forecast for your area from this source if you live in Canada. For a more detailed forecast look to the Clear Dark Sky site. Molly has added a widgit of this site for the Winnipeg area near the bottom of our Links section. It is the strange looking hatched coloured bar. This forecast, much more detailed than that from Environment Canada, unfortunately predicts less than ideal viewing conditions here in Winnipeg tomorrow night. Up to 60% cloud cover (one hopes mainly in the West) and "poor" "seeing conditions". We'll just have to wait and see, no pun intended. I'll update the forecast tomorrow. The Clear Dark Sky site provides detailed atmospheric forecasts for many dozens of sites across the North American continent, not just Canada.
OTHER THINGS TO WATCH FOR:
There are a few other things to look for during the upcoming eclipse. I have already mentioned that the planet Saturn will be prominent above and to the left of the Moon during the eclipse period tomorrow. On the other side, to the right, will be the star Regulus. This is the most prominent star in the constellation of Leo (see this blog for May 13, 2007 for a discussion of 'The Constellation Leo')., and it forms the base of the "sickle" that defines the head of the lion that is Leo. it is the 21st brightest star in the sky, at an apparent magnitude of 1.35. During this eclipse Saturn and Regulus will bracket the Moon. Because it is positioned on the ecliptic Regulus is routinely occulted by the Moon, and rarely by other planets. There will be three occultations of Regulus this year, on February 21, March 19 and April 15. All of them, however, will only be visible from parts of the southern hemisphere. If you have an interest in occulatations Molly advises you to look up the International Occulation Timing Association website. There's a wealth of information there. For other interesting astronomical events in the upcoming week tune in to the Weekly Stargazing Tips on Star Date Online. The Leonid Meteor showers, by the way, are sometimes the most dramatic of the meteor showers in a year. This year they are due on the morning of November 17.