FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                      Date: April 28, 2003

  Contact: Charles Schweighauser, 206-6720


Total lunar eclipse to occur on May 15


SPRINGFIELD – A total lunar eclipse will be visible in this area, weather permitting, on Thursday, May 15.

Moonrise is at 7:55 (CDT) that evening. At  9:03 p.m., the moon will begin making contact with the dark part (umbra) of the earth’s shadow, becoming totally immersed at 10:14 p.m. Totality will last 53 minutes, and the moon will begin moving out of the earth’s shadow at 11:07 p.m. Final contact with the umbra will be at 12:17 a.m.

Charles Schweighauser, professor of astronomy and physics at the University of Illinois at Springfield, 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 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,” said Schweighauser.

He added that if the weather is clear, the eclipse can be safely viewed from anywhere with the naked eye, binoculars, or a telescope. The UIS observatory will not be open because Schweighauser will be working with his students that night.

The last total eclipse of the moon visible in central Illinois occurred on January 20, 2000.

For more information, contact Schweighauser at 206-6720.