By Brian Schlumbohm, Fort Wainwright PAOJanuary 6, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - A total eclipse of the moon was visible throughout all of North and Central America Dec. 20 from 10:41 p.m. until 11:53 p.m. Alaska Standard Time. This was the first such eclipse in almost three years for us in Alaska according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Stepping out to check, I finally began seeing the change close to 11 p.m. and got the camera out. A bit too cold to be holding onto a metal tripod for any length of time, I was only willing to take a few shots before going back in. A lunar eclipse happens when the shadow of the earth passes directly between the sun and moon. The event is not an uncommon one; the last total eclipse of the moon for us Alaskans took place back in Aug. 2007. The next will be on Dec 10, 2011, in case you missed this one. There are three types of eclipses which are commonly viewed: total, partial and penumbral. The total eclipse, like the one Dec. 20, takes in all three stages - the slight fading of the moon (not easy to notice), the shadow creeping across and then lastly the dark copper, orange color as the moon is in full shadow of the earth. All the facts and figures can be found on NASA's webpage at www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEprimer.html. The passing of a shadow may not be something to write home about or make an intriguing photo, but the immensity of the objects is still very interesting and magical nonetheless.