UCF wants to give you a front row seat to the first lunar eclipse visible from Florida in more than three years.
From 2:30 to 5 a.m. on Tuesday, April 15, volunteers from the UCF Robinson Observatory will share several telescopes with the public on Memory Mall as part of its “Knights Under the Stars” events.
“This is the kind of eclipse where the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow,” said Yan Fernandez, an associate professor of physics and astronomy and the director of the observatory on campus. “It’s the opposite of the solar eclipse, where parts of Earth pass through the Moon’s shadow.”
Unlike a solar eclipse, the moon will appear bloody red.
“Since Earth has an atmosphere, some sunlight is bent and actually passes around Earth to still hit the Moon,” Fernandez said. “So instead of the Moon turning totally black when it moves into our shadow, it will turn red, since the other colors of light are absorbed by our atmosphere.
As an unrelated bonus, Mars and Saturn will also be high enough in the night sky to be visible during the eclipse. This month, Mars is the brightest it has been in almost 6½ years, and won’t be this bright again for 2 more years, Fernandez said.
“So it will be an unusually brilliant show for those willing to stay up and as long as cloud cover doesn’t interrupt the show,” Fernandez added.
There is no cost to attend the event. Just look for the telescopes on Memory Mall, located on the north end of campus near the CFE Arena.
The Robinson Observatory has one of the largest telescopes in Florida open to the public. The public is invited to visit the observatory during viewing nights. For a schedule of events click here.
Visitors should check the website or facebook.com/UCFObservatory before arriving on campus to make sure weather hasn’t forced a cancellation of the event.