UA Hosts Public Lunar Eclipse Viewing

Jan 21, 2019

Skywatchers both in Alabama and across much of the world were treated to something special Sunday night.

The Super Blood Wolf Moon was easily visible across the state of Alabama thanks to clear, but cold conditions.

Hundreds of students and others packed onto the roof of Gallalee Hall on the University of Alabama’s campus for a public lunar eclipse viewing. Attendees got the chance to see – and photograph -- the phenomenon up close and personal thanks to a variety of telescopes at the university observatory.

Matt Shelby is the president of the University of Alabama Astronomical Society. He explains what the university had on offer Sunday night:

“Upstairs, we have a 16” reflector telescope. This one has a CCD camera on it, which means it can capture images for long exposures. We also right now – we have that telescope but on top of it, we have another finder scope where we have a camera attached to it which is giving us the live feed of the moon.”

Shelby also explains why the moon takes on its distinctive red shade during a lunar eclipse.

“What happens is that when you see the sun setting on the horizon, and the sky start to turn red? That’s kind of what’s happening with the sun’s rays are going past the earth, are hitting the atmosphere, and then are hitting the moon, and that’s what’s giving it its red color.”

The next total lunar eclipse is not until May 2021, and that one will only be partially visible in Alabama.