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View total lunar eclipse at IU Kokomo Observatory

January 8, 2019

KOKOMO, Ind. –  The Indiana University Kokomo Observatory kicks off the new year with two open houses in January — including one to witness a total lunar eclipse.

The Observatory will be open at 10 p.m. Sunday, January 20 to view the lunar eclipse, with totality to begin just before midnight. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. In a total lunar eclipse, the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon.

Patrick Motl, associate professor of physics, noted that the eclipse takes place during a three-day weekend for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, which makes it easier for people — students in particular — to stay up late to see it.

“The moon is quite striking and beautiful during the eclipse, and folks should enjoy the view if they have the chance,” he said.

Before the eclipse begins, the full moon’s light will wash out all but the brightest stars, but during totality, many other stars will appear. The Beehive Cluster of stars, nearly impossible to spot before the eclipse, should be visible with the unaided eye 7 degrees east of the moon during totality. The eclipsed moon will have an orange glow that comes from all the earth’s sunrises and sunsets, as the atmosphere bends this light into shadow.

The Observatory’s regular monthly open house is from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday, January 13. Motl will begin the event by presenting highlights from the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society, currently underway in Seattle. 

After the presentation, those attending will be able to view Mars, a nearly first quarter moon, and winter favorites such as the Orion nebula and Pleiades cluster through the Observatory’s two telescopes, a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope mounted together.

The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade allows viewers to see fainter objects in the sky, due to its larger light-collecting area. 

The open house is free and open to the public, at the Observatory, 2660 Washington Street. Free parking is available on campus.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 01/08/2019