Roy Exum: Sunday’s Blood Eclipse

Friday, January 18, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The sun, the moon, the stars, and the celebration of the late Martin Luther King are inching towards a perfect alignment for this Sunday night. At just before midnight, every child below the age of 99 … and, yes, there are other “older children” like me … will be able to watch a total lunar eclipse. This super blood moon is going to be fun because we will be able to see the moon and the stars in the same sky – usually the moon is too bright to see the stars at the same time, according to the Cherokee of the early 1800s.

My modern-day chums at AccuWeather are predicting, as of this morning, a clear night for the eclipse – despite freezing temperatures in the 20s – and, no, you will need no special eyewear as is required for a daylight eclipse. What is called the ‘maximum peak’ of this Sunday’s eclipse will appear in Chattanooga’s skies at 12:12 a.m. (early Monday morning) and that’s where Dr. King steps forward – since our nation honors MLK this Monday, schools will be closed so there is one more reason our students can stay up late.

This will be “an epic moon event, according to those in the know at Space.com. “Overnight from Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, into Monday, Jan. 21, millions of people in North and South America will have a prime view of a total lunar eclipse. During a special nocturnal hour, the full moon will become fully tinted with the red-orange color of sunset.”

The website also explains why this type of eclipse is rare. “The Jan. 21 total lunar eclipse will be the last one until May 2021, and the last one visible from the United States until 2022.” The first total lunar eclipse to follow Jan. 21's event will occur on May 26, 2021, and will be visible over the Pacific Ocean, with viewing possibilities in North America, South America and east Asia.

The number of eclipse watchers soared higher than the heavens last July when we had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and what is fun about Sunday night’s show is that the Jan. 20-21, 2019 total lunar eclipse will last one hour and two minutes, according to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center lunar eclipse projections.

What is a blood moon? “Lunar eclipses ... reflect our world," astronomer and podcaster Pamela Gay told Space.com in an email. "A blood colored moon is created (by) ash from fires and volcanoes, ... dust storms and pollution all filtering sunlight as it scatters around our world. A grey eclipse is clear skies. Our world can change the appearance of another world, and during an eclipse, the universe lets us see this color play," she said.

It is believed the full experience, from the start of the partial eclipse to the end, will last three hours and 17 minutes. The peak of the total lunar eclipse will happen shortly after day's end on Sunday, Jan. 20, on the U.S. east coast, at 12:16 a.m. EST (0516 GMT) on Monday, Jan. 21,” according to the experts at Space.com, “This peak is also known as the "greatest eclipse" and is defined as the moment when the moon comes closest to the axis of Earth's shadow.”

A fabulous website is timeanddate.com, which was wonderful during the July eclipse. If you are reading this from outside the Chattanooga community, go to timeanddate.com and type in your location. You will immediately receive a time table for this Sunday’s phenomena.

If you are in the Chattanooga area, here is what our timetable looks like:

* * *

THE STAGES OF THE SUPER BLOOD MOON ECLIPSE OVER CHATTANOOGA JAN. 17-18, 2019

(All times are Eastern Standard)

Duration: 5 hours, 11 minutes, 33 seconds

Duration of totality: 1 hour, 1 minute, 58 seconds

Penumbral begins: Jan 20 at 9:36:29 pm

Partial begins: Jan 20 at 10:33:54 pm

Full begins: Jan 20 at 11:41:17 pm

Maximum: Jan 21 at 12:12:14 am

Full ends: Jan 21 at 12:43:15 am

Partial ends: Jan 21 at 1:50:39 am

Penumbral ends: Jan 21 at 2:48:02 am

* * *

If the clouds block our view, both Space.com and NASA.gov (Shutdown withstanding) will offer real-time coverage of the eclipse from beginning to end.

* * *

WE HAVE ALMOST ‘FRONT-ROW CENTER’ SEATS

(Note: Jack Rao is an instructor and lecturer at New York’s Hayden Planetarium. He is believed to not only be an expert in astronomy but very gifted in his ability to explain it. This is an excerpt from one of his recent contributions to Space.com)

To describe a lunar eclipse, I like to use a movie theater analogy. The "theater," in this case, is the night side of Earth. The "screen" is the full moon, and the "movie" is the progression of Earth's shadow across the face of the moon.

Everyone in the theater looking at the movie sees the same thing everyone else around them is seeing. And, similarly, everyone on the night side of Earth who has the full moon in the sky during the eclipse will see the same sequence of events happening at the same moment in time.

The total phase of the eclipse will be visible from the Western Hemisphere, Europe and the western part of Africa, as well as the northernmost portions of Russia. In all, assuming good weather conditions, this shady little drama will have a potential viewing audience of some 2.8 billion people.

Of course, as is the case in a large theater, auditorium or concert hall, some will have a better view than others. For the upcoming eclipse, the "orchestra seats" will most definitely be in North America, which will see this celestial performance high in the midwinter sky. "Front row center" belongs to those who live near and along the U.S. East Coast, where the totally eclipsed moon will climb to extraordinary heights.

From New York City at midtotality, the darkened moon will stand 70 degrees up from the southern horizon — your clenched fist held at arm's length measures roughly 10 degrees in width, so that's "seven fists" from the horizon. The last time New Yorkers could gaze so high at a totally eclipsed moon was in 1797, when John Adams was president; the next opportunity won't come until 2113. Farther south, the moon will appear even higher. From Cape Hatteras, it will reach 75 degrees; Orlando, 80 degrees; and Miami, 83 degrees.

And from eastern Cuba, the moon will appear directly overhead.

* * *

WALTER FREEMAN, PHYSICIST, SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY: “Minutes after 10:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, or shortly past 7:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Earth's shadow will start passing in front of the moon from the lower left, and about an hour later, the full lunar eclipse appears. This totality lasts roughly another hour, and at about 1:45 a.m. EST on Jan. 21 (10:45 p.m. PST on Jan. 20), the full moon will return to its normal appearance.”

"A little bit of sunlight is refracted by the Earth's atmosphere… bending around the edges of the Earth" before reaching the moon, causing the reddish tint. The moon doesn't disappear from sight but does become "10,000 or so times dimmer than usual."

* * *

AND, TO THINK: When my boy Willard and I were preparing to register for our freshman year, he got into a froth when he read astronomy was “the study of heavenly bodies.” The boy hasn’t looked up ever since.

royexum@aol.com


Roy Exum: A Friend Back Home

The School Discipline Problems

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies


I promised myself I wouldn’t write about this until the timing was right but that was before I spent maybe the most fun hour I’ve had in I don’t know when on Friday morning. Now I am so excited ... (click for more)

Now we are told that we have so many disciplinary problems with our students that we have to open three more schools to take care of them? We go from one school to four. Does anyone not see ... (click for more)

In today’s edition of The Saturday Funnies, allow me to point out student loans for college are now $1.6 trillion (with a ‘t’) in the United States but what is mournful is the fact the life lessons ... (click for more)


Opinion

Roy Exum: A Friend Back Home

I promised myself I wouldn’t write about this until the timing was right but that was before I spent maybe the most fun hour I’ve had in I don’t know when on Friday morning. Now I am so excited about what might happen I’m about to pop. A couple of weeks ago I lost my phone and Bob Corker, our former Mayor and Senator and a lifelong friend, told me he went to considerable lengths ... (click for more)

The School Discipline Problems

Now we are told that we have so many disciplinary problems with our students that we have to open three more schools to take care of them? We go from one school to four. Does anyone not see that we are having a major problem with this. No wonder teachers are quitting and leaving Hamilton County Schools. It seems that we need to fix this before we fix anything else. How can ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Planning Commission Recommends Approval For Special Zoning For "Game Changer" Development At Alstom Property

The Planning Commission on Monday afternoon went along with a request for special zoning for a development on 81 acres at the Alstom property that City Councilman Darrin Ledford called "a game changer for the city of Chattanooga." Victor Dover, who helped plan the rejuvenation of the Southside 22 years ago, said all the aspects of the project called "The Bend" would not fit into ... (click for more)

Driver Killed When Vehicle Runs Off Middle Valley Road On Sunday Night

One person was killed when a vehicle ran off Middle Valley Road on Sunday night. At approximately 9:36 p.m., the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office responded to a single-vehicle crash in the 6500 block of Middle Valley Road. Preliminary investigation determined that a 2003 Chevy pick-up was southbound, left the west side of the roadway going down an embankment, struck a utility ... (click for more)

Sports

Lady Vols Take Road Win Over No. 16/14 Notre Dame

Rennia Davis tied her career high of 33 points to lead Tennessee (3-0) to victory over No. 16/14 Notre Dame on the road on Monday night, 74-63. It was the Lady Vols' first victory on the road in the series since 2008. Davis, the 6-foot-2 junior from Jacksonville, Fla., also pulled down 10 boards to record her second double-double of the season and the 20th of her career. Freshmen ... (click for more)

UTC Women Get Off To Fast Start; Win At Liberty, 71-54

The UTC women got off to a fast start, shooting 70 percent in the first quarter, and defeated Liberty on the road, 71-54, on Monday night. Abbey Cornelius had 15 points in that big first quarter in which UTC led 22-10. Cornelius, a sophomore from Knoxville, finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Eboni Williams, getting back to her SoCon Freshman of the Year form, had ... (click for more)