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Townhall Meeting: Clark Planetarium Exhibits Project

April 14th, 2015

Beginning Summer 2015, Clark Planetarium will begin renovating its exhibits program, a project that aims to complete in November 2016.

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A (Short) Total Eclipse on April 4

April 1st, 2015

If weather cooperates, observers in Utah will have the opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse during the early morning on Saturday, April 4.

“Totality”, when the Moon is fully inside Earth’s shadow, will last about four and a half minutes. It begins at 5:58:01 a.m. MDT and ends at 6:02:32 a.m. MDT, making this total lunar eclipse the shortest in the 21st century. This happens because the Moon will move through the uppermost part of Earth’s shadow rather than passing through its center. In contrast, “totality” for the June 26, 2029 lunar eclipse will last over one and a half hours!

Even though “totality” will be short during Saturday’s eclipse, the Moon will be in partial eclipse for a much longer time. The Moon enters the darkest portion of Earth’s shadow, called the umbral shadow, at 4:16 a.m. MDT, more than one and a half hours before “totality”. The Moon will set before 7:45 a.m. MDT, the time it leaves the umbral shadow. The time of moonset will vary by location. For Salt Lake City moonset is 7:14 a.m. MDT. (The Moon will not set before leaving the umbral shadow for observers on the west coast of the United States and in the Pacific Ocean).

While lunar eclipses occur about every six months, not every eclipse is total. This total eclipse is the third of four consecutive total lunar eclipses, something astronomers call a “tetrad,” a fairly rare occurrence. The first two took place on April 15 and October 8, 2014. The next (and last) will occur on September 28, 2015. That will be an evening eclipse for observers in Utah.

So, wake up early on Saturday and enjoy this alignment of Sun, Earth, and Moon.

“Gateway to the Stars” April 4 – The Spring Guidepost

April 1st, 2015

The nights are getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and the stars are confirming the change of season. We can tell because the “Spring constellations” are climbing a little higher into the eastern sky each night.

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