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Moon and Antares

June 14, 2011

The almost-full Moon puts on quite a show tonight. It's in the southeast at sunset, and skitters across the south during the night. It's just a few degrees behind the "heart" of the celestial scorpion -- the bright star Antares. The Moon sets about an hour before sunrise.

As with many other things in life, when we don't see the Moon we tend to forget about it. But as it circles around the eastern hemisphere tomorrow, during the daylight hours for those of us in the Americas, the Moon will stage an even better show: a total lunar eclipse.

The eclipse occurs as the Moon passes through the long shadow of Earth. The shadow will take an increasingly bigger "bite" out of the Moon until it completely engulfs our satellite world, turning its surface dark red or gray.

This is a particularly good eclipse, too -- the Moon will remain completely immersed in the shadow for about an hour and 40 minutes.

The mid-point of the eclipse occurs right around the moment of full Moon, which is at 3:14 p.m. Central Daylight Time, as the Moon lines up directly opposite the Sun in our sky.

By the time the Moon rises over the East Coast of the United States, around sunset tomorrow, it will have exited the shadow, so it'll shine with its full glory -- the glory of a full Moon. And the skywatchers of long ago apparently thought the full Moon of June was not just glorious, but sweet, too, because it's known as the Rose Moon, Strawberry Moon, and Honey Moon.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2011


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