December 20th Closes out Fall with a Complete Lunar Eclipse in Hawaii
If you are going to be on the Hawaiian Islands on the night of the twentieth of December, you are in for a very special treat. Scientists are predicting that at around 8:32pm the moon will be noticeably entering a full lunar eclipse. This event occurs at various points around the world nearly once every six months, but this is the first time in three years that a complete eclipse will be visible, and Hawaii is going to have a front row seat.A lunar eclipse is fundamentally different than a solar eclipse. In a solar eclipse, the moon comes into the path of the sun, creating a view something like as follows:
The lunar eclipse occurs when the earth completely shadows out the moon, creating a scene like this: What’s great about this kind of eclipse is we aren’t going to need to peek through a pin hole in a piece of paper to view it. Unlike solar eclipses, Lunar varieties are easy on the eyes (a fact that I imagine the nightly setting would have already keyed you into).The reddish tint that accompanies the lunar eclipse is actually a result of differentiation between the wavelengths of the various lights comprising the spectrum. Light waves toward the blue end of the spectrum are short and are blocked out completely by the eclipse, while the waves on the other end of the spectrum are longer and able to bend through, casting an eerie red glow over the moon. The eclipse will actually begin at around 7:29pm, but won’t be very noticeable until around 8:30pm when the moon should be visible in the lower eastern night sky. During the maximum eclipse the moon ought to sit at about the halfway point in the eastern sky, and by the time it ends you can look for the moon to regain its familiar whitish hue directly above your head, or at its zenith. The best time to observe this rare occurrence is going to be between 9:45pm and 10:50pm. Discover Hawaii Tours would be more than happy to take you and yours on a special nighttime adventure to a nice place to view this rare scene, but clouds might easily thwart both of our efforts. Lets all hope that the weather stays clear on that day so nothing get in the way of our viewing.