TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE OF 2014 APRIL 14 -------------------------------------- John Pazmino NYSkies Astronomy Inc www.nyskies.org email@example.com 2014 March 3 initial 2014 April 6 current
Introduction ---------- New York City enjoys a total lunar eclipse on 2013 April 15 in owl hours. The Moon stands next to Spica, a rare instance of a bright star or planet adjacent to a lunar eclipse. Usually the eclipse has only dim stars around it. With the long duration of a lunar eclipse, about 3-1/2 hours, you should arrange for comfortable seating and condiments. You do not have to stay outdoors for the whole eclipse. Stepping out for the contact moments and then every ten or so minutes is plenty. No special instrument is needed, bare eye being perfectly adequate. Many observers get their best views with binoculars rather than a telescope. The low power of binoculars gives the eclipsed Moon a setting among surrounding stars and enhances the illusion of a 3D globe.
Timetable ------- The timetable of events for the eclipse is presented here. Hours, which may differ by a minute or two from other sources, are Eastern Daylight Savings Time. ---------------------------------------------- TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, 2014 APRIL 14-15, NEW YORK ----------------------------------------------- EDST | events | alt-az | remarks ------+-----------------+---------------- 19:10 | Moon rises | 00 102 | in daylight 19:34 | Sun sets | 01 102 | end of daytime 20:07 | civil dusk | 09 103 | end of daytime work 21:17 | nautical dusk | 20 123 | full night in New York City 00:00 | midnight | 38 165 | April 14 --> April 15 00:49 | Moon culminates | 39 180 | Moon max alt on meridian 01:42 | 1st paenubra | 37 196 | first paenumbra shade 02:02 | 1st contact | 36 202 | partial phase begins 03:10 | 2nd contact | 30 220 | total phase begins 03:49 | maximum eclipse | 25 228 | deepest coverage by umbra 04:20 | 3rd contact | 20 235 | total phase ends 05:10 | nautical dawn | 12 244 | end of full night 05:36 | 4th contact | 08 248 | partial phase ends 05:44 | civil dawn | 05 250 | start of daytime work 05:56 | last paenumbra | 04 252 | last paenumbra shade 06:17 | Sun rises | 01 255 | start of daytime 06:24 | Moon sets | 00 256 | in daylight ----------------------------------------
Contacts ------ The contacts listed in the timetable are the various tangencies of the umbra with the lunar disc. Recall that the umbra is the very shadow of Earth projected directly behind the Sun. It is not seen be\cause normally there is nothing for it to fall onto. It blocks sunlight from the Moon when the Moon passes thru it and causes the lunar eclipse. Surrounding the umbra is a less dark zone where sunlight is only partly blocked by Earth. This ts the paenumbra. It shades from full sunlight at its outer edge to quite deep darkness at its inner edge against the umbra. For a total lunar eclipse there are four contacts. -------------------------------------------------- 1st contact | 1st exterior tangency | partial phase begins 2nd contact | 1st interior tangency | total phase begins 3rd contact | 2ns interior tangency | total phase ends 4th contact | 2nd exterior tangenvy | partial phase ends -------------------------------------------------------- In a partial eclipse we have only the 1st and 4th contacts because there is no totality. The Moon always shows part of her lighted disc. ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1st contact | 1st exterior tangency | partial phase begins 4th contact | 2nd exterior tangenvy | partial phase ends -------------------------------------------------------- The paenumbra gradually shades darker inward toward the umbra. About 20 minutes before 1st contact, and for the same span after 4th contact, there is usually a brownish tinging of the Moon at the contact points. For 1st contact this warns of the coming of partial phase. After 4th contact we get a last lingering shading of the Moon to finish the viewing session. The graduation of shading in the paenumbra differs among eclipses and can not be reliably foretold. I always use a nominal 20-minute limit, based on the many lunar eclipses I've observed since the 1960s. For eclipses where the umbra misses the Moon and she passes only thru the paenumbra we generally do not bother with viewing. We note the geometric moment when the outer limb of the paenumbra does exterior tangency with the lunar disc, as the 0th and 5th contacts,. These moments have no visible indication on the Moon.
Magnitude -----=- One figure of merit for an eclipse is its magnitude. The greater this number, the more total is the eclipse. A value less than 1.00 indicates a partial eclipse. A negative value points to a paeumbral eclipse. The Moon misses te umbra and only the paenumbra lies over her disc. Such magnitudes are rarely cited because paenumral eclipses are generally neglected. Sadly as it does happen, the explanation of this figure can be loused up badly. The usual statement is that the magnitude of an eclipse is the fraction of the lunar diameter overlapped by the umbra. By this rule all total eclipses have magnitude 1.00 because the entire diameter is obscured by the umbra. Yet total eclipses have magnitudes greater than one. An other description says that the magnitude is the ratio of umbra to Moon diameter. This makes a fixed magnitude thruout the eclipse, ignoring phase. Here's the proper way to calculate an eclipse magnitude.
(ecl magn) = (Mrad + Urad - sep) / (2 * Mrad)
Mrad and Urad are the angular radius of the Moon and umbra. When diameter is given, take one half of it. Sep is the angular separation of Moon's and umbra's centers. The magnitude of a lunar eclipse is the same for all observers. The eclipse takes place on a plane faceon to the observer, where any change in angular dimension is called equally for any remoteness of the observer on Earth's surface. The magnitude is virtually always stated for the moment of maximum eclipse, when the separation of Moon and umbra is the least. As the Moon moves thru the umbra the center-center separation varies to yield a continuous gradation of the magnitude number. The largest value of magnitude for a set of radii is a center- over-center crossing of Moon thru umbra. The separation is zero and the formula reduces to (Mrad + Urad) / (2 * Mrad). This gives the most overrun of the umbra on the Moon. It's possible to have zero and negative magnitude. A zero value indicates a grazing partial eclipse. The Moon just kises the Sun at one exterior contact on the north or south lunar limb. A negative value, which I hardly ever hear of, means the Moon misses the umbra and does a normal Full Moon phase. There is no eclipse, except prhaps an overlay of only the paenumbra. The table here gives the various scenarios of eclipse magnitude ---------------- magn | scenarios --------+---------- <0.00 + no eclipse, normal Full Moon 0.00 | graze partial eclipse <<1.00 | partial eclipse, Moon excentric from umbra <1.00 | deep partial eclipse 1.00 + graze total eclipse >1.00 | normal total eclipse ---------------------------- A related figure is the obscuration of an eclipse. This is the fractional area of the lunar disc covered by the umbra.This is common for a solar eclipse but only occasionally cited for lunar ones, and then only for partial eclipses. It is sometimes found by squaring the magnitude but this is not the way of computing it. You must go thru geometry of two overlapping discs of different diameters, for umbra and Moon, based on the data used for the magnitude. Once the Moon is fully in the umbra, in a total eclipse, the value of obscuration remains constant at 1.00. It decreases when the Moon starts to quit the umbra exposing more of her disc.
New York sky ---------- The full spring sky is above us, centered on Virgo and the Moon. Big Dipper is in high northwest, Scorpius is low in southeast, Lyra is coming up in northeast. During totality the dimmer spring and early summer stars come out. You may practice your star-ID skills on Ophiuchus, Corona, Hercules, and other less lustrous constellations and asterisms. There are two planets near the Moon for this eclipse, tho not really adjacent. Mars is 10 degrees west and Saturn is 26 degrees east. Both are close to their oppositions and near their largest and brightest phase. You may during totality take a look at them in the dark sky to fill in the observing gap from large Moon. The eclipse falls outside the scheduled periods for the 2014 GLOVE at Night campaign. The GaN office does allow certain extra assessments as part of observing other celestial events. There is a special assessment during the Regulus occultation of 20 March 2014. Definitely avail of the absence of Full Moon during totality to so a GaN reading. With Orion well down in the west, you can use stars in Leo. Regulus is magnitude 1. Algieba and Denebola are 2, Chort and Zosma are 3, the rest of the Sickle is 4.If you see most of Cancer and Lunx and leo Minor, those stars are magnitude 5.
Weather and time -------------- April is a spring month that can have lingering winter chill. It can also bring rain. Have at ready a jacket or sweater. An other consideration is moisture and dew. They can fog optics and knock out electric and electronic devices. infiltrate into them. The eclipse lasts several hours from 1st to 4th contact. Even in mild and pleasant air you don't want to stay outdoors continuously to watch the Moon. You may step indoors to warm up, consult charts or maps, write notes, handle gadgets.Examining the Moon at intervals of ten to fifteen minutes, plus around the moments of the contacts, is quite sufficient to acquire a full experience. A few passing clouds should not spoil the view. If they are moving quickly they obscure the Moon for only a couple minutes. It can really happen that scattered or shredded clouds add special beauty to the eclipse! Moonlight dances off of them and they turn reddish during totality. April is deep within the period of daylight savings time. All hours in this article are in EDST. It is now several years since the start of EDST shifted from first Sunday of April to 2nd Sunday of March.
Viewing location -------------- The mechanics of a lunar eclipse do not factor in the location of the observer. All observers, so long as the Moon is in their sky during the hours of the eclipse, see the very same scene. For the NYSkies region, all locations enjoy essentially the same hours,,altitude, and azimuth of the Moon. With all figures in this piece computed for Manhattan, they are valid as are for any place within the NYSkies territory. On the other hand, ou may want to attend a viewing session with family, friends, other astronomers. There may likely be many public viewings for this eclipse all over NYSkies. While it is not at all necessary to be at a special location, the modestly late hour and long duration of this eclipse encourage group viewing. Check the April 2014 edition of NYC Events for public viewings announced early enough to be entered into it. Check directly with your local astronomy center for any last-minute news. At a public session you may bring your own telescope or binoculars, altho there will be plenty on site to look thru. You should be familiar with your equipment to avoid needless fiddling and fussing. Other telescopists will be pleased to help but you really better understand how and why your gear works. If you go to an open field or beach, where wind and chill can seep over you, dress more for winter than for spring. What was adequate by day may be too weak for the late night. Simple snacks and a bottle of warm drink are also good to have with you. Because activity on the Moon procedes slowly you may chat and banter with other viewers without much worry about annoying them or missing an important phase of the eclipse. Yes, you better still be well-mannered with your company. Like for any other late night activity be very mindful of road and rail conditions in the midnight hours. Many travel corridors close for repair in these hours, causing no end of travel disruptions. Drive or ride around the closed sections or get to your target before they close. The same reasoning applies for the trip home. Getting trapped by a road that closed during your stay at the viewing site is very unfunny.
Equipment ------- Probably the very best views of a lunar eclipse are taken thru binoculars, not a regular telescope. There is no need for high magnification or amplification. Totable scopes of 75mm to 100mm aperture are thoroly worthy to apply to this eclipse. This makes it far more feasible to bring suitable gear to a viewing site by transit or carpool. With a conventional telescope, ue the low powers that enclose the entire Moon in the eyepiece field, maybe with some sky around her. Such a low power, to many astronomers, induces the impression that the Moon is really a ball and not just a flat disc. This effect is an illusion and it may fail for certain people.
Photography --------- Taking pictures of the eclipse is like doing skyscape photography. In totality or very near 2nd and 3rd contact, the same procedure is used as for the starry background. With digital cameras, the exposure is only a few seconds to record a firm image. This short shutter speed suppresses star trails. You may try a zoomed view or telephoto lens. The exposure may be shorter to prevent the magnified star trails from spoiling the image. In the early to late partial phase try letting the camera set Itself for exposure. Switch to a center-spot meter pattern for the internal light meter, if you can. Many very simple cameras may lose sharp focus at high zoom during the picture taking or later on the computer screen. Try some lunar pictures on days before the eclipse to learn how deep a zoom your camera can stand before the image falls apart. It's tempting to do a time-lapse sequence, like for chemocameras. This technique requires that the camera can do multiple exposures with out, advancing the film'. Chemocameras did this by disengaging the sprocket wheels so the film stays put while the shutter is cocked for the next shot. Most digital cameras do not allow multiple exposures on one image, but some high-end models do. Else, have fun superimposing images in the computer's image processor.
Lunar caution ----------- Please be extra careful when compiling timetables for the Moon. If events span midnight, your ephemeris generator may fold over the time sequence of lunar activity. Do a sanity check with a planetarium. As an example the Moon rises on April 15th at 20:14 EDST. This is in the night of the 15th, some 18 hours AFTER the eclipse! The Moon rise you need is that on the 14th BEFORE the eclipse. That's at 19:10. The sanity check for this eclipse is that the Moon must rise a few minutes BEFORE sunset because she didn't yet reach opposition for the eclipse. The moonrise on the 15th puts the Moon way past opposition, rising 40ish minutes AFTER sunset. An other source of error is the shift of daylight and standard time near midnight. You could take information for a full day earlier or one later. Midnight of April 14-15 in daylight savings time is 23h on April 14 in standard time.
Umbral darkness ------ ------ The overall darkness of the umbra ranges widely across eclipses. It may be a bright cherry red to dense charcoal gray. The former limit has a Moon that still outshines the planets and brightest stars. At the latter limit the Moon quite vanishes from view to the eye and is hard to recover in binoculars. Some hint of the darkeness can be foretold by volcanic activity on Earth. Excess high-elevation dust expelled from volcanos may block light from filtering thru the atmosphere. It doesn't reach tot he Moon. Yet for the most part, we merely let the Moon surprise us. Over the decades various methods were tried to assess the darkness of the umbra. One was to see which of a set of lunar craters is visible under a specified telescopic magnification. An other was to opticly shrink the Moon to a point and then compare it with stars seen by direct sight. One way to shrink the Moon, at least to a small size, is to look at her thru the wrong end of binoculars. One revalent method was the Danjob scale, described from time to time in astronomy media prior to major lunar eclipses. It assigns a number to the umbra according as its color and texture. No one method was generally accepted and the litterature on umbral darkness is spotty.
Umbral size --------- By the late 1600s, after many lunar eclipses were studied with the newly developed telescope, we found that the umbral diameter is consistently a bit larger than the geometricly calculated one. The usual explanation since the early 20th century is that the sunlight passing around the Earth on its way to the Moon is deflected a bit outward to enlarge the shadow. But atmospheric optics should reduce slightly the unbra's size. The effect is sometimes assigned to human physiology in the vision , yet it shows up in photographs. Continued efforts to measure the size of the umbra are still needed. The easiest way is to time when the umbra crosses various lunar topographic landmarks. Because the umbra moves slowly and has a diffuse edge, the timing can be taken to only a ten-second fineness at best. This is quite enough to define the actual umbra against the geometric one. The Moon is full for a lunar eclipse so the craters and other relief have no shadow. Pick in the stead bright and dark patches over the disc. In many instances these coincide with craters, like Plato, Grimaldi, Tycho, Proclus. Choose the smaller ones to better fix a crossing point. When selecting features, refer to photographs of the full Moon, not just a lunar map or composite picture. You could by mistake pick a feature that under real full Moon conditions is oblitterated for lack of light-&-shade. Note the time, from a well-synchronized clock, when the umbra first touches, is midway over, and completely over the feature. Same process in reverse is done for the crater when it leaves the umbra. By geometry or graphics you can work out the circle that best fits your timings and compare its diameter to the calculated one for the eclipse. It will almost always be a couple percent larger, the reason and cause still being unknown.
Umbral texture ------------ The umbra is very unevenly sahded, making lighter and darker patches over the lunar disc. It's hard to depict the umbra shading because the lunar disc has its own light and dark patches in the maria and terrae. Digital cameras offer an amazing faculty to remove the Moon's own irregular shadings and leave just those of the umbra. Take a picture of the Moon a few minutes before first contact before the eclipse. Then take pictures druing the partial and total phases. In the image processor do a 'subtract' of the fully lighted Moon from the eclipses Moon. The resulting image has only the dark-light pattern of the umbra. A sequence of these subtractions over the eclipse span shows the movement of the Moon thru the umbra.
Lunar heat -------- If you have CCD imagers, you could try measuring the sudden and drastic drop of temperature on a lunar crater as the umbra covers and uncovers it. A lot of interpretation of the measured brightness of the crater is called for, depending on the properties and behavior of your peculiar imaging system. Technical help from the system's manufacturer may be needed, plus filters for certain wavebands. If all goes well, you'll be astounded at the fall of heat in an eclipse. Within minutes after the umbra crosses a crater, the temperature drops from around +100C to -100C!! When the umbra clears the crater the temperature rapidly climbs back to +100C. During totality you may search for hotspots of internal lunar heat, places where heat is emitted in spite of the lack of sunlight. As I recall the findings are inconsistent over eclipses, which could be due to erratic action of the hotspots.
Occultations ---------- There is a severe lack of detailed observations in the days surrounding full Moon. The Moon smothers fainter stars from view. Look up occultations occurring during the eclipse and try to time them. The Moon doesn't have to be fully umbrated. As long as the area around the contact point of the star is in umbra, you can get good timing. The better lunar occultation trackers alert you to possible events during a lunar eclipse, even if you set the the program to exclude full Moon periods. Occultation timings are still valuable in this day of precise -- to one eter resolution! -- tracking of the Moon by spaceprobes and laser ranging. Home astronomy work continues to supplement and cross- check that of the spacecraft. Some occultation software don't recognize the dark lunar disc during an eclipse. They may see only that the Moon is full and skip over occultations deemed too difficult to observe against a bright lunatr disc. You may have to force the software to leave out the effect of phase.
Mars & Saturn --------- The monthly large Moon period discourages all levels of stargazing, including that for planets. Saturn and Mars are near the Moon for this eclipse and could reward you with better views than outside the eclipse. Saturn does nothing special on April 15th and requires no extra attention. He looks the same as any other time in his current apparition. If you're with friends or public do be sure to let them inspect Saturn for a few minutes when the Moon is darkened. Mars is only one week past his opposition, with a disc diameter of 15 arcseconds. He is still bright, tho noticeably less so than at opposition. He from now on shrinks in both brilliance and size for the rest of his apparition. Mars events, like dust storms, darkening of certain surface markings, and break out of clouds, can occur within a day or two. An inspection of Mars in this lunar eclipse could reveal action that would be missed under normal large Moon. Do a normal Mars observation, with observing blanks, sketches and photos during totaltiy.
Variable stars ------------ Every month the large Moon interferes with monitoring variable stars. In eclipse the Moon is faint enough to allow about as dark a sky as possible for your observing location. This sky lets you inspect k stars most affected by the Moon-gap. Prepare for your work with all the needed charts, cut from the AAVSO website. Lay them out in an itinerary around the Moon. know well how to find the star's field quickly and confidently. Record the assessed magnitude on standard log sheets. Variable star times are cited in Julian Day Number. Be very careful to properly account for your timezone and midnight crossing when converting the calendar and clock to Julian Day Number.
Meteor showers ------------ This year's annual Lyrid and Virginid meteor showers are commonly dismissed because they falls in the large Moon period. It could be feasible to see activity from these showers during totality, possibly capturing information about them that would be other wise lost. Here is the specs for both showers from the INO rable of active radiants: ------------------------------------------------------ # RAd DEd Names & IMO code ZHR Sun Peak Activity span KPS - --- --- -------------------- --- --- ------ ------------- --- 6 195 -4 Virginids (VIR) 5 4 Mar 24 Jan 25-Apr 15 30 7 271 34 Lyrids (LYR) 15 32.Apr 22 Apr 16-Apr 25 49 --------------------------------------------------------------- The RA is in degrees, not hours & minutes. 'ZHR' is Zenith Hourly Rate, the idealized number of meteors per hour falling during the peak date. 'Sun' is the ecliptic longitude of the Sun at the peak date for the shower. 'KPS' is the geocentric speed of the meteors in kilometers per second. The radiant for the Virginids is two degrees north of Mars. You're looking in its direction while observing the eclipse. The Lyrid radiant is about 10 degree west-southwest of Vega, or about above Vega during the eclipse. The Lyrids are a regular shower with at least some fall of meteors each year. The Virginids are a weak stream with occasional years of little or no activity.
Comets & aurorae --------------- If there be a nighttime comet, it'll show up better during the eclipse. I recall several instances when a comet could have been visible but for the large Moon in the sky. By the time the Moon moves along and shrinks in phase, the comet is fading away. By spring 2014 solar activity may stay moderate or weak. There likely is little chance of catching an aurora during totality. Look around anyway! Scan around the northern quadrant for suspicious glows and patches, those not normal for you site. Then look again a couple minutes later because auroral features shift aspect quickly. If by chance there is a lunar halo, the colors fade away to leave mostly red. Same for parselenia.
Lunar meteors ----------- This is a very long shot experiment. There is already a home astronomy program to look for the flash of a meteor colliding with the Moon. The observing is done on the dark side of the lunar disc during the regular cycle of phases. Meteor hunting quits when the Moon gets near full because there is then too little dark surface to monitor. This leaves each month a hole in the records for captured crashes of meteors and biases statistics about them. A lunar eclipse offers the chance to collect meteor crashes when otherwise they are utterly nonobservable. The search is done on the part of the Moon within the umbra. A given spot on the Moon can be watched for the whole span of totality at that spot, which will in general be different from the overall totality duration. If you are planning videography for the Regulus occultation of 2014 March 20,use that gear for this eclipse. Your rig must record stars of 6th to 8th magnitude, the typical brightness of a meteor flash on the dark side of the Moon. Hook up the video device to a telescope to show the whole or major portion of the lunar disc in the field. A meteor can hit any where, so a wider area of lunar surface has a better chance of getting a strike. Videograph within the umbra, keeping the lighted part of the disc out of the camera field. Start and stop the shoot at known moments, within a few seconds by a synchronized clock. Examine the movie in slow motion to see if you got any meteor flashes. Overwhelmingly the odds are that you didn't. Yet, in spite of the long odds, home astronomers persevere and they did catch many meteor strikes. NASA has an office at the Marshall Space Flight Center to collect and coordinate such observations. The time of the collision is taken from the frame rate and count of frames from the start moment of your video shoot. Depending on the capacity of your camera's memory you may have to do several runs each on a fresh memory device. It is not really feasible to watch by eye at the telescope. The stress is much too great and you can very easily miss a flash, that lasts only a second or two. You do need the videography rig.
Nature studies ------------ If you view from a place with interests in wildlife, you may try to monitor the actions of small animal s and insects during the eclipse. I don't know what to expect but I suppose that ants use the Moon to guide them at night. When the Moon is covered up how do the ants react? Do birds come to ground and wait out the eclipse? Do burrowing animals come out, thinking it's dark enough for safety? So crickets change their chirping?
Eclipse frequency --------------- Most readers recall seeing a total lunar eclipse from a given fixed location. Few can say they saw from that same location a total solar eclipse. If they saw one at all, they almost for sure traveled to the central path, which could be halfway around the world. The geometry of eclipses forces at least two solar eclipses each year and can miss any lunar eclipses. Solar eclipses occur more frequently on the global scale than lunar eclipses. To be far, many of the solar eclipses are only partial ones near the Earth's poles The reason for the familiarity with lunar eclipses is that the eclipse lasts a long time and is visible from any where the Moon is over. This is a bit more than 1/2 of the world, an area that has a good chance to enclose your location. A total solar (including annular) eclipse is seen only from a narrow band across the world at best about 200 kilometers wide. Unless tore in this belt you miss the total phase. It works out that for a given location the chances of a total solar eclipse occurring is once in about 200 years. This is a global average. It also turns out that partial solar eclipses seen from a given place are almost as common as lunar eclipses. Most readers miss them because they require solar filters or other safe observing mean. Without these they skip the event as being a curious news item. This was the situation in New York for the partial solar eclipse on 2013 November 3. There was no mass witness for it among the people. Only astronomers tried for a look and they were clouded out. A similar nonevent may be the partial solar eclipse of 2014 October 23. It begins ten minutes before sunset in the City.
Eclipse with star --------------- A lunar eclipse next to a bright star or planet is rare. For this eclipse the adjacent star is Spica, about 1 degree south of the Moon. The last time Spica sat next to the eclipsed Moon was on 1968 April 13-14. I watched that eclipse!! The previous lunar eclipse against a planet was with Saturn on 1996 September 26. That one I also watched. For the record the bright stars that could sit next to the eclipsed Moon, with the approximate dates, are: ------------------------------------------------- star or group | date | displacement from Moon ----------------+--------+----------------------- Hydaes-Pleiades | Nov 24 | Moon 1/2 between the two Elnath | Nov 13 | 5 degree north Pollux | Jan 14 | 7 degree north Beehive cluster | Jan 30 | 2 degree north Regulus | Feb 22 | 1 degree north Porrima | Apr 3 | 3 degree north Spica | Apr 17 | 2 degree south Zubenelgenubi | May 7 | 1 degree north Graffias | May 25 | 1 degree north Lagoon cluster | Jun 21 | thru M8, M20, M21 Sagittar's clus | Jun 29 | 1 degree south Caput Capri'i | Jul 23 | 6 de N to alp-bet Cap Circlet | Sep 14 | 6 degree north --------------------------------- The Circlet is a dim asterism but is a distinctive crude circle of stars in the Western Fish of Pisces. In addition to passing just south of Graffias the eclipsed Moon can occult omega 1 & 2 Scorpii.
Eclipse cycles ------------ Lunar eclipses follow the same cycles as solar eclipses and occultations. Given the date of one eclipse or occultation, there is an other on the same date 19 years away. At first this rule seems to fail for the April 14th date of the instant eclipse. It is not an integral number of 19-year intervals after the 1968 eclipse. 2014 and 1968 are separated by 2.368 19-year steps. The apparent breakdown is caused by 2014 being only the second instance of the current round of the Rule-oh-19. The previous eclipse in this round was on 1995 April 14. The one before that would be on 1974 but there ws none then. The current round started with the 1975 eclipse. The 1968 eclipse on April 14 is the LAST one of its own round of the Rule. The others in that round in the 20th century are in 1949, 1930, 1911. By the way, the 1995 eclipse, occurring also next to Spica, missed New York. It took place in local daytime below the horizon. It also was a partial eclipse with only a slice of the north side of the Moon covered by the umbra. The 2014 eclipse is the next in the exeligmos of 54 years, 31 days, following that of 1960 March 13. The next one is 2068 May 17. The wander of dates comes from the leapday chatter and the omission here of fractional days.
Conclusion -------- Eclipses, of the sun or moon, are wonderful events to witness and record. When the hour is convenient, they are stunning public spectacles. They are excellent sources for astronomy, maths, geometry lessons and demonstrations. Every eclipse is unique in aspect, ambience, circumstance. The juxtaposition in 2014 of Spica under the Moon makes for an extra pretty scene! With the typical cool April night with trees and flowers starting to bloom should make for an extremely pleasant night under the stars. No eclipse should never be skipped for trite cause. Deliberately prepare to observe it! Many will be clouded out, like any other celestial event. Recall that most of the New York region lost the 2012 Venus transit to clouds. That's the incurably handicap of skywatching.