Total Lunar Eclipse for Portland, Oregon, the Coast - Brings Religious Holiday
(Oregon Coast) - It's a good one – but it's a quickie. And Portland, the Oregon coast and much of the rest of the state will get to see it: a total eclipse of the moon on April 4, in the wee hours of the morning. With the totality clocking in at only five minutes, this full moon also brings an important holiday around the world. There is also a viewing party in the Gorge that morning to take it all in.
Weather, however, looks to be a major concern. So far, that early part of Saturday morning looks to be cloudy and rainy. Forecasts look equally cloudy for the Oregon coast as well as the inland state.
OMSI Space Science Director Jim Todd said this one will be the shortest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century. It will be visible throughout the Pacific Northwest, if the clouds allow.
The penumbral eclipse will start at 2:03 a.m. and the umbral shadow will take a small, dark bite out of the left edge of the Moon. Then, for the next 74 minutes, it's a partial phase darkness that engulfs more of the Moon's disk as it slides into the shadow.
The partial eclipse ends and totality begins at 3:16 a.m. with the point of the greatest eclipse occurring at 4:58 a.m.
The eclipse’s total phase will last for just 5 minutes. At that point, the Moon will be 17 degrees above the southwestern horizon. Following shortly will be twilight, which starts at 5:02 a.m.. Finally, the partial eclipse ends at 6:45 a.m. followed by the moon set at 6:51 a.m.
So why is this lunar eclipse only five minutes?
“On April 4th, the moon will be traveling eastward through the very upper portion of earth's umbra shadow, which is the shortest path and will take only five minutes,” Todd said. “Because of this, the moon will appear more pink during the eclipse. A general total lunar eclipse would last for 3.5 hours; this is when the moon travels through the central umbra and appears more red or copper in color.”
Then, this full moon also means something else quite significant.
“The following day, Easter is determined as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the March equinox, so with the lunar eclipse, which occurs at Full Moon, happening on a Saturday that means Easter is the next day,” Todd said.
Even with the crummy weather, it may still be possible to see the eclipse periodically. Clouds do tend to thin out sometimes and even break for a bit. This happened along the beaches one year as Oregon Coast Beach Connection chased a lunar eclipse around the north coast.
This eclipse also brings a star party near Portland.
OMSI will host the first of two lunar eclipse viewings in 2015 on Saturday morning, April 4. Weather permitting; a free viewing of the eclipse will begin at 3:00 a.m. at Milo McIver State Park in Estacada. The Rose City Astronomers, and Oregon Parks and Recreations will have telescopes set up for attendees to use.
Todd will be presenting informal talks about the lunar eclipse and the spring night sky.
On the scheduled day of the Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party, it is suggested that interested visitors check the OMSI Star Parties web site http://www.omsi.edu/starparties for possible weather-related cancellations. The event starts at 2:00 a.m. and is free with $5 park fee per vehicle. Warm clothing is a must, and a flashlight with red light is recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are always welcome.
To reach Milo McIver State Park (24101 S Entrance Road, Estacada, OR), from I-205, take OR-213 S to Redland Road unto S. Redland Road, turn right on S. Springwater Road and turn left to S Entrance Road. The park is located 23 miles southeast of Portland.
Below: various moon moments from the Oregon coast and inland, including some eclipse photos.
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