Sunday, July 27, 2014         

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Partial lunar eclipse viewable from isles

By Helen Altonn


Islanders going to bed late Friday or rising before dawn Saturday might see a partial eclipse of the moon if clouds don't obscure it.

Considering Hawaii's recent lack of rain, "odds are in favor" of good viewing conditions, said Mike Shanahan, Bishop Museum director of exhibits, education and the planetarium.

It's been several years since Hawaii residents have had a chance to see the Earth's deep shadow blocking out the moon.

But it won't be a total eclipse here. "It will be a partial one, but it will be a pretty good show, I'm hoping," Shanahan said.

He said viewing should be best at 12:16 a.m. Saturday when the moon starts moving into the deep inner shadow of the Earth. "If there is any visible darkening, it would begin to be noticeable."

The maximum point will be at 1:45 a.m. with just under half of the moon under the Earth's dark inner shadow, he said. "There should definitely be a noticeable change in the brightness of the moon," he added. It will be entirely out of the Earth's dark inner shadow at 2:59 a.m.

A lunar eclipse happens only during full moons and it will be high overhead, with a better chance of seeing it, Shanahan said.

Lunar eclipses are followed by solar eclipses, and what is expected to be a spectacular solar eclipse will occur July 11 over Easter Island, he said. It will be visible in some parts of the Cook Islands and viewed as a deep partial solar eclipse in the rest of the Cook Islands and Tahiti, he said.

It's the last total solar eclipse for 29 months, so there is a lot of interest in it, with tours and cruises scheduled out of Papeete, Tahiti, into the path of totality, Shanahan said.

For more information, see bishopmuseum.org, and click on the "Planetarium" link.

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