THE SKY THIS MONTH: April’s total lunar eclipse
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Mar 31, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

THE SKY THIS MONTH: April’s total lunar eclipse

Hamilton Mountain News

A red sky at night is a sailor delight, but what happens when the full moon turns blood red?

This is what happens when there’s a lunar eclipse and the next one will be April 15 at 3:42 a.m.

For many ancient cultures, an eclipse spelled doom. They thought the moon was swallowed by demons or animals. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow crosses the face of the moon. It only happens when there’s a full moon.

The moon turns a deep red by refracted light travelling through the Earth’s atmosphere. During a total lunar eclipse, this change in colour happens just before and after the Earth’s shadow completely blots out the full moon. During a partial, or Penumbra, eclipse, Earth’s shadow doesn’t completely cover the moon and it just turns red.

A total lunar eclipse is relatively rare. The last one that we could see was in December 2010. The next one will be September 2015.

If you’ve never seen a lunar eclipse, make sure you don’t miss this one. It might make a great gathering of friends, or a romantic rendezvous with your significant other.

Here are April stargazer events. Most are listed in the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers calendar.

Planet watching

Mercury vanishes from the morning sky mid-month. Venus can be seen in the eastern morning sky. Jupiter can be seen in the western evening sky, setting after midnight. Mars rises in the east at sunset. Saturn rises late evening. Neptune can be seen through a telescope in the eastern dawn sky.

April 6: The moon is below Jupiter.

April 7: First quarter moon.

April 8: Mars is at opposition, rising at sunset in the east and setting west at sunrise. It’s also at its brightest. Look for Mars as a bright orange star.

April 11: Hamilton Amateur Astronomers meeting 7:30-9:30 p.m., Hamilton Spectator auditorium, 44 Frid St. Free admission with door prizes and everyone is welcome. An optional food bank donation of non-perishable goods will be collected. Speaker will be member Leslie Webb, who will discuss

“Obstacles in Visual Astronomy.”

April 14: Mars is closest to the Earth at 92.4 million kilometres.

April 16: The moon is extremely close to Saturn at 0.4 degrees in the late night sky.

April 22: Last quarter moon. Lyrid meteor shower peaks.

April 25: The crescent moon is above Venus in the dawn sky.

For more information, see the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers website at or call 905-627-4323. If you would like to learn more about the night sky, the club offers a basic astronomy course for members.

Mario Carr, the author of this report, is the club’s director of public education and can be reached at

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