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Sidewalk Astronomers Aid Eclipse Watchers

October 8, 2014

1012310_10154580236815012_1287450733605168899_n  Do you know about the Sidewalk Astronomers?

They are a volunteer/by donation organization that brings out telescopes and sets up shop on sidewalks to show people the sights in the night sky.

“The Sidewalk Astronomers are a public service amateur astronomy association. ALL Sidewalk Astronomers events are for the public. We take telescopes TO the public – on street corners, public parks, in front of bookstores -wherever there are crowds of people. We also work with other amateur astronomy organizations and take part in many international projects. Please browse our site and feel free to contact us to learn about events in your area.”
Pictured above is the moon taken by a sidewalk astronomer in LA on Saturday night.

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On Saturday, a gentleman on Main Street and California in Ventura showed us the waxing moon and told us he’ll be on the Ventura pier with his telescope for the lunar eclipse tonight.

For those of us on the West Coast, the lunar eclipse starts about 1am Weds morning Oct. 8 and is likely to be full tilt blood red from around 3am to 4am.

While red will be the dominant color, it will also have turquoise blue. According to NASA,

“To catch the turquoise on Oct. 8th, he advises, “look during the first and last minutes of totality. The turquoise rim is best seen in binoculars or a small telescope.”

Our local sidewalk astronomer plans on getting to the pier and setting up by 1am and staying for the whole time.

At the Sunland-Tujunga Public Library, they are already going strong–as you can see by photos 2 and 3.

Image 4 is from NASA. This link will give you lots of scientific info on this eclipse, past ones and future ones too.

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My husband went to bed early; he wants to go to the Pier to check out the lunar eclipse using the Sidewalk Astronomer’s telescope, and it’s actually NOT FOGGY which happens all too often for celestial events on the coast. However, as I can never get him to wake just to see an eclipse through the window from the comfort of our bed at home, I have my doubts that we’ll go.

As someone who has always been drawn to star gazing and moon watching, I’d love to be there and see it through a telescope.

But just seeing it and watching it from my bed, even for a few minutes, is enough.

I will never forget the first lunar eclipse that I saw while on a backpacking trip with Girl Scouts. Four of us watched the whole progression while we sang John Denver and James Taylor and other folk songs over and over.

Another important eclipse occurred in 2008. I had just started blogging and I wrote about both the astronomy and the astrology. I had almost 3,000 page views on my blog that day. More importantly, we held a ritual of cleansing, clearing adn protection before, walked along the beach as the sun set and the moon rose,  and the results of our efforts were spectacular.

If you think about it, an eclipse is about change: an eclipse offers a change in perspective, it reveals what has been in shadow. Sometimes what is in the shadows needs to be lit, and what is lit needs to be in shadow.

Because humans have long been fearful of eclipses (where is the sun going? will it come back? what is happening to the moon and why is it going red?), the Hindu Deity Lord Ganesh who is the remover of obstacles and the patron of artists and writers leaves his home on Mount Kailash and roams the land to be of service to those who needs his assistance. He’s here for a few days before and after each eclipse. Read more about Ganesh. Or Ganesh and Kailash. Read a poem I wrote about a lunar eclipse.

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Eclipses come in pairs. Like the stars, most people don’t pay much attention unless they are right in front of you. But like the stars that are there day and night; eclipses happen more frequently than you might think–it’s just that they aren’t occurring on your part of the planet.

Fortunately for us on the West Coast, we will be able to see the next solar eclipse, a partial eclipse–given the right equipment as gazing at the sun is bad for the eyes. Connecting with your local Sidewalk Astronomers can help you out.

The next lunar eclipse is in April 4 2015. According to NASA, The lunar eclipses of 2014 are the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses – a series known as a tetrad. During the 5000-year period from -1999 to +3000, there are 4378 penumbral eclipses (36.3%), 4207 partial lunar eclipses (34.9%) and 3479 total lunar eclipses (28.8%). Approximately 16.3% (568) of all total eclipses belong to one of the 142 tetrads occurring over this period (Espenak and Meeus, 2009). The mechanism causing tetrads involves the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit in conjunction with the timing of eclipse seasons (Meeus, 2004). During the present millennium, the first eclipse of every tetrad occurs sometime from February to July. In later millennia, the first eclipse date gradually falls later in the year because of precession.

There will be another pair of eclipses in September 2015.

If you want to know about the astrology for this eclipse, check this link out; the article there says that ” Lunar Eclipses are about relationships and polarities. With the Aries-Libra axis involved, this Lunar Eclipse presses us to look more closely at our needs, lacks, and wants in our lives concerning the balance between Aries-ruled and Libra-ruled areas of life. “

So! The sky is clear here along the SoCal coast; I don’t even hear the fog horn! Time to set the alarm and get a few hours sleep before waking to watch this special Lunar eclipse. I’ve got the binoculars ready to set bedside! Are you ready?

And if this news is too late for this eclipse, check into Sidewalk Astronomers. Because there’s more cool stuff going on in the sky than you can imagine!

 

 

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