January 31, 2018

Lunar Eclipse Greets Early-Rising Stargazers

Over 100 people were out at the Greene Valley Scenic Overlook before dawn to catch today’s lunar eclipse – including the Naperville Astronomical Association.

“We love the idea of going out and looking at different things,” said NAA member Tony. “We go out at night with our scopes, we see stars and planets, and this is something we don’t get to see every night or every day, this is something worth getting up for.”

That something was a Super Blue Blood Moon.

That means there was a lunar eclipse: a blood moon. During the second full moon of the month: a blue moon. While the moon was at its closest point to earth: a super moon.

It was also special because of an effect called a selenelion – something only visible thanks to help from the atmosphere.

“That’s when you can see the sun above the horizon and the moon above the horizon during a full moon. It’s actually not above the horizon, it’s below the horizon, but the earth’s atmosphere refracts the light and you actually see the moon even though it’s below the horizon,” said Eric Claeys, Media Relations Officer of the NAA.

Unfortunately for the stargazers, the sunrise was clouded out at Greene Valley. And the moon vanished from the sky as soon as it was covered. So that special effect wasn’t noticeable.

But that’s just astronomy.

“It’s something we’re used to being stargazers in Chicagoland. Half the things we plan to do are clouded out completely. We know there’s something going on in the sky and we just can’t see it,” said NAA Member Drew Carhart. “So we’re kind of used to that. At least we saw most of the eclipse, it wasn’t like it was snowing and we had to stay home.”

Even if that one effect was missed, the lunar eclipse made for a great bit of moon-gazing in the morning.

Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.

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