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Charles Schweighauser
217/206-6721
schweighauser.charles@uis.edu

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  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Total lunar eclipse to occur on November 8

November 3, 2003

SPRINGFIELD - A total lunar eclipse will be visible in this area, weather permitting, on Saturday, November 8.

Moonrise in the Springfield area is 4:45 p.m. (CST) that evening. At 5:32 p.m., the moon will begin making contact with the dark part (umbra) of the earth's shadow, becoming totally immersed at 7:06 p.m. Totality will last 25 minutes, and the moon will begin moving out of the earth's shadow at 7:31 p.m. Final contact with the umbra will be at 9:05 p.m.

"The period of totality is quite short for a total lunar eclipse," said Charles Schweighauser, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Schweighauser explained that a total eclipse can occur only when the moon is full - when it is on the opposite side of the sky from the sun. Neither will the moon ever be completely dark because of sunlight refracted through the earth's atmosphere.

"The color of the moon while in shadow can range from light copper to dark red, depending on the amount of dust in the atmosphere, particularly from volcanoes," he said.

Weather permitting, the UIS observatory will open at 5:30 p.m. that evening and will remain open until the eclipse is completed. Viewing is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required, but if the weather is questionable on November 8, viewers can call the UIS Astronomy office at 206-6721 after 4 p.m. to learn if the observatory will be open. The observatory entrance is located at the southeast corner of Brookens Library on the UIS campus.

Schweighauser noted that if the weather is clear, the eclipse can also be viewed from anywhere with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope.

For more information, contact Schweighauser at 206-6721.

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