WVC physics professor explains partial lunar eclipse

Nov 18, 2021

Tonight, Mount Carmel and the surrounding region will experience a partial lunar eclipse, one of the two to cover our region this year. The peak of the eclipse will take place at 3 a.m., but Wabash Valley College’s physics professor Andy King explained that the action starts taking place much sooner. “While the eclipse technically begins at midnight, the visible action really starts at about 1:15 a.m. as Earth begins blocking out the upper half of the Moon.”


Lunar eclipses take place under particular circumstances, according to Mr. King. “This type of eclipse only happens during a full moon, while solar eclipses, like the upcoming solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024, only occur during a new moon.” Unlike solar eclipses, you do not need special equipment to view a lunar eclipse. Though you may want a telescope to get a closer look at the moon during the eclipse. Eclipses are actually great learning experiences. “One thing we can learn is that Earth is not flat!” King said. “What we end up seeing is very good alignment of three roughly spherical objects.”


One of the interesting observations that is immediately recognizable is the changing color of the moon. The moon’s color turns from an off-white to a reddish color. “It turns red since ordinary light is composed of rainbow colors and since the others are scattered away,” said King. This is a great opportunity to see physics and astronomy in action! You don’t want to miss it, as we won’t see another lunar eclipse until May.