Jan 20th Total Lunar Eclipse

The next full Moon on January 20th, will feature a sunset total lunar eclipse visible across the islands. The eclipsed Moon will rise just as the Sun sets on the opposite horizon.

Total Lunar Eclipse Aug 28,2007
Total lunar eclipse August 28, 2007

The eclipse will be just underway as the Moon rises on the island of Hawaii, with the Moon rising at almost exactly 18:00HST and the total phase of the eclipse starting 41 minutes later. Maximum will occur at 19:12HST with the Moon 14° above the horizon.

January 20, 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse
Event ContactUT HST
Penumbral BeginsP1 02:36:2816:36:28
Partial Begins U1 03:33:5517:33:55
Total Begins U2 04:41:1818:41:18
Greatest EclipseMax05:12:1819:12:18
Total Ends U3 05:43:1819:43:18
Partial Ends U4 06:50:4220:50:42
Penumbral Ends P4 07:48:0521:48:05
Data from Fred Espenak’s eclipse website

Many references state that the eclipse will occur on January 21st, and it will, in time zones further east than us here in Hawaii. We are ten hours behind UT, thus it will be the evening of the 20th when the eclipse occurs in the islands.

An easy to view evening eclipse, no reason not to get out and view this one, no need for an alarm clock!

The Island Sky for 2019

2019 is looking to be a pretty ordinary year for events, with a few decent events to look forward to. The highlights will be a sunset total lunar eclipse on January 20th, the η-Aquariids meteor shower in early May, a transit of Mercury in November, and a nice set of planetary conjunctions in the sunset and sunrise.

Awaiting dark with the 20" telescope
Andrew Unger beside the 20″ Obsession while waiting for properly dark skies at Kaʻohe

There are dozens of posts scheduled here on DarkerView to remind my readers of these and many more events before they occur. Frankly, I need the reminder myself. Stay tuned for all of the great events the sky of 2019 will offer us.

The remainder of this post is a quick summary of the events our sky has to offer in 2019.

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The Impact of Totality

Having recently viewed a total solar eclipse I have been thinking about the experience. What it was like to observe first hand a truly incredible spectacle of nature? A total solar eclipse is about as dramatic an event our world can produce.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017
The 2017 total solar eclipse as photographed from central Oregon
This is not my first total solar eclipse, but that first eclipse was back in 1979, occurring 38 years ago, my memories dimmed by the passage of time. This event is still bright in my mind, the memories bolstered by numerous photographs and a couple video records.

The experience was astonishing. For the first thirty seconds or so I simply sat in amazement, observing the eclipse and the world around me. Despite old memories and numerous photos I was still amazed by the sight. I knew what was coming, but I was to some extent unprepared for the sight before me. Eventually I gathered my thoughts and took some photos before the fleeting moments of totality expired.

In these modern times we rarely encounter a natural phenomena we are completely unprepared for. Prior to the event we have seen photographs or video, read descriptions from others. We generally know what we are about to encounter beforehand, or at least have a name and a cause we can understand when caught by surprise.

Imagine if that was not the case, consider seeing a total solar eclipse when you have never seen one, never even heard of such a thing, and do not know something is about to happen.

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A Night in the Meadow

This little meadow is is only a couple acres. Along one side is a spring where crisp water seeps from the ground and marks the beginning of a creek. Along the top the last few hundred feet of the paved road ends at a junction of rougher roads that lead further into the forest.

Grant's Spring Under Stars
The meadow at Grant’s Spring under northern stars
At the very center of the meadow a large snag stands alone, broken off twenty five feet above the ground, a tangle of limbs on all sides. This old snag is a dark sentinel in the night, almost unreal and a bit eerie in the gloom, it seems to move when you are not looking.

The clearing is surrounded by seventy foot high trees. Pine, fir, and larch are all represented in the dense forest that covers much of the ridgeline. This limits the view, blocking objects low on any horizon. The tall trees also provide a stage above which the stars rise and set, sometimes blinking brightly as they pass behind branches.

There are simply no lights, no substantial civilization for fifty miles in any direction. There are no distant domes of light visible on the horizon to remind one of Edison’s terrible invention. There is just the darkness and the stars above.

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