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April Kicks Off Trifecta of Lunar and Solar Eclipses

Viewing Parties at Chabot Space & Science Center's Observatory

OAKLAND, Calif., March 11, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On the evening of April 14, a 3.5 hour lunar eclipse is the feature at a special viewing party at Chabot Space & Science Center. Beginning a little before 11pm (PDT) on Monday April 14th, the eclipse will end around 2:33am (PDT), Tuesday, April 15th.

Chabot is hosting special open viewing hours on the deck for this astronomical black-out. Staff astronomers and observatory deck specialists will be on hand for Q&A, informal presentations, and general conversation. Hot chocolate and treats will be sold and visitors are encouraged to bundle up, bring warm blankets and comfy seats or sleeping bags, and enjoy the view from the top of the hill.

The penumbra, the moment our Moon enters Earth's outer shadow, begins at 9:53pm (PDT).  Visually, there will not be too much to see at that point as the shadow's effect on the Moon's appearance will be minimally visible. According to staff astronomer Conrad Jung, however, "about 30 to 45-minutes later, when the Moon is deeper into the penumbra, one might notice that the left side- the eastern side-of the Moon is darker relative to the opposite side." 

The shadow will get increasingly more visible as the night progresses. The umbra phase, when the Moon starts to enter Earth's inner shadow, begins at about 10:58pm (PDT).  At that point, with the help of a telescope, one can see a dramatically darker feature of the Earth's umbra. It's at this point that the partial phases of the eclipse will begin.

Just after midnight, at 12:06am (PDT), Tuesday, April 15th the eclipse will reach totality. By that time, the Moon will be completely immersed in Earth's inner shadow. Viewing will be quite easy with the naked eye. Over the next 80 minutes, the Moon will emerge from totality.

As long as the skies are clear, Chabot Space & Science Center is an excellent location to view this kind of astronomical phenomenon. Later in the year, the Center will highlight two additional eclipses, lunar and solar.

The Lunar eclipse on October 8th begins in the early morning hours at about 1:15am (PDT). The peak occurs about 45-minutes later when the Moon is deeper into the penumbra phase. The main part of the eclipse lasts about 3.5 hours ending at about 5:34am (PDT).

On October 23rd, the skies darken for the first solar eclipse we've had since the deep partial annular eclipse on May 20, 2012. Although not a particularly deep eclipse, Jung says it is "a nice partial and is our best view of a solar eclipse until August 21, 2017." The whole event lasts a bit over 2.5 hours and will be visible in the early afternoon.

For more information on purchasing tickets for the April 14th evening event call the box office at (510)336-7373. For updated information and eclipse images visit

About Chabot Space & Science Center

Chabot Space & Science Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit interactive science center whose mission is to inspire and educate students of all ages about Planet Earth and the Universe. Located in the Oakland hills, the Center focuses on the earth, life, physical and astronomical sciences, with a 130-year legacy of serving Bay Area communities through exhibits, public programs, school field trips, science camps, teacher training, teen development programs and community outreach; hosts 50,000 students on school field trips and over 117,000 public visitors each year; and offers over 20,000 sq ft of interactive exhibits on a variety of space and science subjects, a world-class planetarium, school classes on over 30 different science topics, hands-on science activities, state-of-the-art classrooms and labs and publicly-available research-level telescopes.

SOURCE Chabot Space & Science Center

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