PHOTOS: Total Lunar Eclipse – April 4, 2015
Last night’s lunar phenomenon is the shortest eclipse since 1529, making it the shortest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
Some Hawai’i residents had questions about whether last night’s astronomical event was indeed a “total” lunar eclipse. Many observed that during the total phase a very bright glow could still be seen along the edge.
Staff at the Bishop Museum Planetarium explained the phenomenon.
“The short duration is due to the fact that the moon barely made it into the earth’s deep inner shadow, or umbra. By contrast, in both 2014 eclipses, the moon passed through the center of the earth’s deep shadow. The moon nearest the ‘top’ of the umbra (the top part of the moon seen from our point of view in the northern hemisphere) glowed unusually bright, since that part of the moon was near the edge of the earth’s dark shadow.”
This event happens to be the third in a series of four total lunar eclipses in a row called a tetrad. The first two occurred in 2014 on April 14th and October 7th. The fourth and final total eclipse is expected on September of this year. Unfortunately, this event will not be visible from the Hawaiian Islands.
This phenomenon of four successive lunar eclipses has only occurred twice in the last 100 years.