A total lunar eclipse will be visible in the Pacific Northwest Wednesday evening, Feb. 20.
 
Michael Allen, instructor at the WSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, said that when the moon rises that evening at 5:11 p.m. the eclipse will already have begun, but the center of eclipse –when the moon is directly in the center of the earth’s shadow– will not occur until 7:26 p.m. The eclipse will end at 10:17 p.m.
 
“The best time to watch the eclipse is from 5:43 to 9:09 p.m.  Pacific Standard Time,” he said. This gives observers a margin of more than three hours to watch the event, although the center of eclipse will last only 51 minutes.
 
“A lunar eclipse is when the sun, earth and moon lie on a straight line,
with the earth located in between the moon and sun,” Allen said.
 
Lunar eclipses occur almost every year, but they are not always easy to
observe, do not happen early in the evening, as is the case this year, or are not visible from all parts of the world.
 
The next lunar eclipse will be Aug. 16 and it will not be visible from the Palouse.
 
“This is a total lunar eclipse, meaning that the moon in its entirety will
pass through the darkest portion (umbra) of the earth’s shadow. If the moon does not become completely immersed in the earth’s inner shadow (umbra) but instead part of the moon passes through it, then it is called a partial lunar eclipse.
 
If the moon only passes through the outer sheath of the earth’s shadow (penumbra) then it is called a penumbral eclipse. These are difficult to observe,” Allen said.
 
For more information, Allen can be reached at 509-335-1279 or at mlfa@wsu.edu.