Space Monday

Space, the final frontier, will provide star gazers three interesting events all culminating at the same time later today, starting just minutes before 5 pm EST.   

The first event is the private rocket launch of the private firm's Space X ricket, Falcon 9, which is carrying the Dragon space craft will launch out of Cape Canaveral, Florida.  The Dragon spacecraft will later dock with the International Space Station.  the event will be streamed by NASA, SpaceX and Space.com for any viewers looking to catch the actual lift off.  In recent years, due to budgetary cuts to NASA, the private sector has stepped in to provide resources for space travel. 

the second event will happen after sunset when Mars passes within 57 million miles of Earth.  This will the be the closest Mars will be to earth since 2008.  Mars will be visible to the naked eye as a bright orange-red disc.  A decent telescope will be able to make out the ice caps and the larger mountain ranges on Mars. 

Finishing off the trifecta of space events, around 2 am, early Tuesday morning, Earth's moon will pass behind Earth's amber shadow causing a long full eclipse.  The eclipse will last for approximately 78 minutes.  On average, there are two lunar eclipses each year, but they are rarely full eclipses with the dramatic optics that are anticipated tonight.

There are three different kinds of eclipses:
● A penumbral eclipse is when the moon passes through the pale outskirts of Earth's shadow. It's so subtle, sky watchers often don't notice an eclipse is underway.

● A partial eclipse is more dramatic. The moon dips into the core of Earth's shadow, but not all the way, so only a fraction of the moon is darkened.

● A total eclipse, when the entire moon is shadowed, is best of all. The face of the moon turns sunset red for up to an hour or more as the eclipse slowly unfolds.

Star gazers are recommended to seek darker areas without light pollution from cities.  In Stratford, Booth Park has an observatory, and other earas in the northern part of town will provide the better star gazing conditions. the lunar effects can see the moon go from a bright orange to a blood red. 




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