Physics department offers chance to see eclipse

How does free food and a night under the stars sound to you?

The physics department, Society of Physics Students and The Huntsville Amateur Astronomical Society invite all to witness the lunar eclipse on Nov. 8 at 6.p.m. at the observatory.

According to the Today@Sam’s website, the witnessing of the lunar eclipse will include free snacks, a slide show and plenty of sights in the sky.

For the many that are not familiar with a lunar eclipse or do not know exactly what it is, says a lunar eclipse is basically an eclipse of the moon. The website says a lunar eclipse can only occur at full moon, and only if the moon passes through some portion of the Earth’s shadow.

The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one nested inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where the Earth blocks part but not all of the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region where the Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the moon.

The website also lists the different types of lunar eclipses. The penumbral lunar eclipse is when the moon passes through Earth’s penumbral shadow. The events of the penumbral lunar eclipse are of only academic interest since they are subtle and quite difficult to observe.

The partial lunar eclipse occurs when a portion of the moon passes through Earth’s umbral shadow. These events are easy to see, even with the unaided eye. The total lunar eclipse is when the entire moon passes through Earth’s umbral shadow. The total lunar eclipse is quite striking because of the vibrant range of colors the moon can take on during the total phase.

For more information about attending the lunar eclipse, contact the physics department at 294-1601 or call 294-3664. Directions or a map of the observatory can be found on the department of physics website.

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