Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Viewing Features Rare Supermoon Eclipse

Westmont College News Release

2015 September 24

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Westmont Observatory will host an informal gathering to view the lunar eclipse on Sunday, Sept. 27, beginning at 6:30 p.m. However, the blood moon will be too low in the evening sky to use Westmont’s telescopes.

Tom Whittemore, Westmont physics instructor, says he and several members of the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU) will set up small refractor telescopes on the deck of the observatory. “The main group of the SBAU will be at Stearns Wharf to show the public the eclipse, but they will not have anything more powerful than binoculars,” he says.

This will be the fourth lunar eclipse in the last 17 months, but this event will feature a supermoon, the largest full moon (in apparent size) of 2015. The moon will be at perigee, its closest point to the Earth, on the very same day —221,753 miles away.

The moon will become completely immersed in the Earth’s shadow about 7:11 p.m. on Sunday night, maximum eclipse at 7:47 p.m. and ending about 9:30 p.m.

The next total lunar eclipse will occur on Jan. 31, 2018.

The observatory opens its doors to the public every third Friday of the month in conjunction with the SBAU, whose members bring their own telescopes to Westmont for the public to gaze through.

The powerful Keck Telescope is housed in the observatory between Russell Carr Field and the track and field/soccer complex. Free parking is available near the baseball field.

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