The University of New Orleansand Louisiana State University have scheduled public viewing events for the unusual total lunar eclipse that will occur Sunday night (Sept. 27). The eclipse — the last total lunar eclipse until 2017 — begins at 8:07 p.m. and ends at 11:27 p.m. in the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.
UNO astrophysicist C. Greg Seab and the Pontchartrain Astronomy Society are sponsoring a public gathering to discuss and view the eclipse on the university campus. Seab, a physics professor, will discuss “Moons, Supermoons and Lunar Eclipses” at 7 p.m. in Room 1001 of the Science Building.
Seab said those viewing the eclipse are likely to see dramatic changes in the moon’s color — from dusky gray to bright red-orange. “It has been called a blood moon because of its color, Seab said. “But that is not an astronomical term.”
If weather permits, the public will be able to watch the full moon rise and also be able to see Saturn. Pontchartrain Astronomical Society members will have telescopes set up at about 7 p.m. for public viewing.
Parking for the UNO event is located in a lot off Leon C. Simon Boulevard and St. Anthony Boulevard.
The Landolt Astronomical Observatory on the LSU campus will be open to the public between 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. The observatory is making its large Alvan Clark Telescope available for public viewing of the “blood moon.”
“An astronaut standing on the moon would see our earth completely covering the sun, with the sun’s corona sticking out, giving a halo around the Earth,” said professor Bradley Schaefer of the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy. “But the brightest light will actually be a brilliant red rim all around the Earth’s edge caused by seeing all of the world’s sunsets simultaneously.”
The Ladolt observatory is on the roof of Nicholson Hall on Tower Drive next to the LSU Student Union. Free parking will be available in the parking lot between Nicholson Hall and the Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex. A stairway to the observatory is on the first floor of Nicholson Hall. The observatory is accessible to handicapped persons.
The observatory is open to the public once a month. The next scheduled viewing will be of Saturn and its rings Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.
Interested in combining eclipse watching and night fishing? The St. Tammany Parish Fishing Pier is providing an opportunity to do both, with $1 admission just for viewing, $3 for fishing. The pier is located at 54001 E. Howze Beach Road, Slidell, and will be open Sunday from 7 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Just want to check out the eclipse in your own yard, or on the Web? Check out Sky & Telescope magazine’s tips for viewers and its scheduled high-definition webcast:
The magazine also has made available a lunar eclipse ebook. It includes a large moon map and lots of information about the eclipse.