John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2014 March 3 initial
 2014 April 6 current
    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 
     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. 
    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 
    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.  
    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 
    (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 
    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 
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 
    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. 
    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. 
    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.
    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 
  # 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. 
    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.