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Final weekend for tours – and a lunar eclipse

This weekend (Sept. 25-27) is the final weekend of 2015 for public tours at PMO, and we have the added bonus of a total lunar eclipse, for which we’ll remain open on Sunday evening from about 7 to 9 p.m.

On Friday and Saturday, the bright Moon will limit viewing of other sky objects, so tours will likely conclude as early as 10 p.m. The planet Saturn will only be visible from about 7 to 8 p.m.

On Sunday, the total phase of the lunar eclipse is from 7:11 to 8:23 p.m., which is during twilight. The Moon will be too low for the 24-inch telescope. We’ll have a couple portable scopes set up to view the total phase, but also bring your own binoculars, and be prepared to hike the short trail to the top of the hill if you want to see the first half-hour or so of the show. It should be interesting to see the eclipsed Moon in the Earth’s shadow as it rises up from the eastern horizon immediately after sunset. During the partial eclipse phase, from 8:23 to 9:27 p.m., the sky will be darker than normal for a full Moon, and we’ll try to catch a couple of “deep sky” objects like we normally do on moonless nights. Note that this will conclude no later than 9:30 p.m. – please don’t arrive late!

The Moon is only about 356,000 km away from Earth during this eclipse versus nearly 400,000 km on average, hence the “supermoon” designation you’ve probably heard in the news. Once the eclipse is over the Moon will indeed appear just a bit bigger and brighter than normal, and you won’t need a telescope to see that. The PMO campground remains open for those who wish to stay overnight.

Photos added Sept. 28, 2015.

Eclipse watchers at PMO on Sept. 27, 2015.

Eclipse watchers at PMO on Sept. 27, 2015.

Lunar eclipse as seen from PMO on Sept. 27, 2015.

Lunar eclipse as seen from PMO on Sept. 27, 2015.

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