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Observatory Opens Early for Blood Moon

Westmont College released the following information Tuesday:

The second total lunar eclipse of the year will be the focus of a free, public viewing on Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 2:30-4:30 a.m. at the Westmont Observatory.

The special viewing occurs in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit, whose members bring their own telescopes to Westmont for public use.

“This should be a fun event gazing at the spooky, coppery moon at totality through Westmont’s 8-inch refractor telescope,” says Thomas Whittemore, Westmont physics instructor.

The partial eclipse begins at 2:18 a.m. with totality beginning at 3:27 a.m. and ending at 4:22 a.m. The partial eclipse will end at 5:32 a.m. The moon’s appearance during totality can vary depending on the path it takes through the Earth’s umbral shadow.

The Earth’s atmosphere, including clouds and dust, can also add to the darkening of the moon during an eclipse.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse poses no danger to the eyes. The next total lunar eclipse will be Sept. 27, 2015. The Westmont observatory, which opens its doors to the public every third Friday of the month, will also be available Friday, Oct. 17, beginning at 7:30 p.m. and lasting several hours.

The Keck Telescope is housed in the observatory between Russell Carr Field and the track and field/soccer complex. Free parking is available near the baseball field.

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