By Jerry Granok
Special to The PREVIEW
Did you see the total lunar eclipse?
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, Oct. 8, there was a lunar eclipse that occurred when Earth passed between the sun and the moon in such a way that the moon moved into Earth’s shadow. It began at 4:25 a.m., lasted until 5:25 a.m. and was at maximum at 4:55 a.m.
As the eclipse progressed, early risers/night owls saw the moon take on an orangish coloring caused by refracted light of the Earth’s atmosphere that gives it the name “blood moon.”
I wonder what the ancient people thought of such a sight?
On Sunday, Oct. 19, Comet 2013/A1 Siding Spring, named after the Australian observatory that discovered it, will pass very close to Mars and be visible to us.
San Juan Stargazers will have several telescopes set up in Yamaguchi Park for a public star-party. We encourage people to start arriving around sundown at 6:30 p.m., with viewing being best when the sky is completely dark around 8 p.m.
The comet will have passed by Mars at a distance of only 82,000 miles at around 11:30 a.m., which is the closest a comet has come to any of the inner planets in recorded history.
All of the Martian rovers and orbiting satellites will try to observe the comet as it passes Mars. There will be opportunities to learn about comets and then view it as it passes close to Mars. There is no charge, but people will be able to contribute to the scholarship fund if they would like to.
On Thursday, Oct. 23, there will be a partial solar eclipse when the moon is directly in line between the Earth and the sun. This alignment is uncommon and is well worth experiencing.
Although the eclipse will not be as deep as the one we saw in Pagosa Springs two years ago, it is still fascinating to watch the moon cover the sun in real time.
It is very important to tell you that it can be dangerous to look directly at the sun during an eclipse without proper protection.
Stargazers will be providing protective glasses on a first-come basis and will also have two solar telescopes with protective filters for viewing. Telescopes will be set-up at Yamaguchi Park starting at 3 p.m. The eclipse will start at 3:20 p.m., with the maximum at 4:37 p.m. and ending by 5:45 p.m., shortly before sundown.
We expect to remain for a while after sundown to see what else is in the night sky including Comet 2013/A1 Siding Springs. Again, there is no charge, but people can contribute to the scholarship fund.
The San Juan Stargazers is part of the Astronomical League, which includes clubs from all over the U.S.
Learn more about Stargazers at www.SanJuanStargazers.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 335-8286.
Activities are open to the public and to anyone interested in learning more about our wondrous universe.