On the evening of Saturday, March 3, 2007, a total eclipse of the Moon will be giving a show to Europe and Africa. Here in North America and South America , we will only be able to see part of the show, and those on the east coast will get the best show. Here's a roundup of sites to get your backyard astronomy lesson started.
Click on Lunar Tours, then select today's date on the monthly calendar to see what's happening with the moon today. "The Moon is the most easily observable astronomical object, and also the most rewarding. For the beginner, it is a breathtaking spectacle through even a modest optical instrument, and as the knowledge and resources of the astronomer increase, it will continue to provide fascinating new challenges and insights. Inconstant Moon is intended as both an introduction to lunar astronomy for the beginner, and an ongoing reference point for the more experienced observer."
Want to know exactly when the total lunar eclipse is coming to your town? Simply enter your location and select the eclipse date from the drop-down list of recent and upcoming lunar events. For example, in Boston on March 3, 2007, the moon rises at 5:30 PM, and enters totality thirteen minutes later. For international locations, use Form B to enter your location using longitude and latitude coordinates.
"An eclipse of the Moon (or lunar eclipse) can only occur at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped components, one nested inside the other." In the outer cone (known as the penumbral zone) the earth only blocks some of the sun's light. In the inner cone (the umbral shadow), all of the sun's light is blocked. Mr. Eclipse is my pick-of-the-day site. Visit to learn about lunar eclipses and how to photograph them.
We naturally think of lunar eclipses from our perspective here on Earth. But what if you were astronaut on the moon during an eclipse? This fun article (and accompanying audio) starts by imaging just that scenario. "Up in the sky, a big black disk covers the sun. A red 'ring of fire' appears where the sun was only moments before, and its glow turns the ground red beneath your feet. You've been waiting for this. It's an eclipse."
The NASA Eclipse site is a compendium of information on upcoming eclipses (both solar and lunar) and planetary transits (when an inner planet crosses between us and the sun.) In addition to a complete eclipse calendar, the Eclipse Home Page has links to related maps, photos, and special features. Follow the Lunar Eclipse link for an article explaining the Danjon scale ( a measure of lunar eclipse brightness from zero to four) and a big section on eclipse photography.