Total lunar eclipse, a night at the Tellus

By MORGANA KENNEDY

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. – Cloud cover dampened the mood for stargazers and interested spectators as the super moon entered a total lunar eclipse.

The Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville opened its doors at 8 p.m. to host an event for viewing the eclipse from an observatory Sept. 27, 2015. With visibility poor, the eclipse was broadcast in the Tellus theater on a live stream from other observatories.

This lunar show was unique, according to Tellus astronomer David Dundee. The eclipse was the last of the lunar tetrad for 2014-2105. A lunar tetrad occurs when there are four consecutive total lunar eclipses.

“It is the last good lunar eclipse for our location until January of 2019,” Dundee said.

It occurred when the moon was closest in its rotation to the Earth making it appear slightly larger. NASA has coined the phrase “super moon,” Dundee said. Refracted light from the sun creates a dark red hue, which is often referred to as a blood moon.

For some superstitious individuals, a blood moon combined with a super moon is a bad omen. Gwinnett County resident Tandy Krajec planned to attend the event at the Tellus, but said before going that she is weary of people doing strange things.

“This kind of thing makes people go a little crazy,” Krajec said. “Some people think it’s the end of the world.”

But nothing apocalyptic was happening, according to Dundee. The total eclipse is called a Penumbral eclipse. It can only happen at full moon, when the moon is completely aligned with the Earth and the sun.

All lunar eclipses will turn a reddish color, Dundee said. Astronomically the event is not significant.

What happens during a lunar eclipse is the sun and the moon are on opposing sides of Earth, and the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow, he said. As sunlight passes through Earth’s atmosphere blue light is filtered out, and this is what makes the moon look red.

Nicole Stephens, a Bartow County resident, said she frequents the museum often with her three children. She home schools the children and said the event was a great way to educate them, and it is convenient.

“We live right around the corner and have memberships,” Stephens said.

The Tellus opened up seven years ago, and has an actual piece of moon rock on display, Dundee said. Although the eclipse was not visible to the naked eye through the clouds, it was still an awe-inspiring experience through the live feed in the museum’s theater.

Its digital planetarium shows allowed the audience to see not only the lunar eclipse, but a solar eclipse as well. They were transported to the surface of the moon without leaving their seats. People who came into theater were led through the event through a narration by Dundee.

Over 700 guests came out to the event, according to Shelly Redd, director of marketing. This number exceeded Dundee’s original expectation. The event was free for members. For non-members it was the regular admission price of $14 for adults and $10 for children.

Though he was able to make predictions about the event, the beauty of it never truly escaped him, Dundee said.

“It still amazes me that at 9:06 p.m. I can look up, and there it is right on time, the clockwork of the universe still happening,” he said. “To walk out and see it happen is exciting to me.”

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