POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 19, 2010
Island residents will get a full view tomorrow of the first total lunar eclipse in three years.
By 9:42 p.m. in Hawaii, the moon is expected to be entirely in the Earth's shadow, said Mike Shanahan, Bishop Museum's director of exhibits, education and planetarium.
A full moon in December follows the same high path across the sky the sun would in the summer.
"That means this one will go way overhead, over buildings and over the horizon," Shanahan said. "Folks all over the island should have a pretty good view of it."
The Bishop Museum will be hosting a viewing party from 8:30 to 11 p.m., but residents must RSVP due to limited space. Shanahan said about 500 people have already made reservations.
IF YOU GO ...SEE THE ECLIPSE
» WHAT: Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party
» WHEN: 8:30 to 11 p.m. tomorrow
» WHERE: Bishop Museum
» COST: Free
» RSVP: Required; visit www.bishopmuseum.org/visitors/rsvp.html or call 848-4176
Members of the Hawaiian Astronomical Society will be on hand to offer telescopes. The observatory will be open.
The eclipse begins at 7:29 p.m., just as the moon enters the outer shadow, or penumbra, of Earth. Shanahan said the moon's darkening won't begin until at least 8:32 p.m., as the moon enters Earth's inner shadow, or umbra.
From 9:42 to 10:52 p.m., the total eclipse will cast a copper or dark-red color on the moon.
"During that whole 70-minute period, that is essentially one long peak," Shanahan said.
This is the first total lunar eclipse visible to Hawaii residents since Aug. 28, 2007, and the first anywhere since December 2007, Shanahan said.
Partial lunar eclipses occur about once every six months but are not visible everywhere.
"Usually even though you have a full moon every month, the moon is a little too high or a little too low to go into the shadow of the Earth," Shanahan said. "Every six months, there will be a lunar eclipse. But if the moon is not quite fully into the shadow of the Earth, it's nowhere near dramatic as a total eclipse."