Lunar eclipse on Apr. 4, 2015

Total Lunar Eclipse Open House

Observatory and Planetarium
Augustana College
820 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois

Sunday, September 27, 2015, 9:00-11:00 pm

The John Deere Planetarium will present a free public program on Sunday night, September 27, in conjunction with the total eclipse of the moon. The planetarium will be open from 9:00 pm until 11:00 pm, with indoor and outdoor programs in the planetarium, the Carl Gamble Observatory, and the building's grounds. There is no charge for admission.

According to Dr. Lee Carkner, director of the John Deere Planetarium and Professor of Physics at Augustana, a lunar eclipse occurs when the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon is such that the Earth blocks the sunlight that normally makes the Moon shine. "During the eclipse, the Moon is slowly covered and then uncovered by the Earth's shadow. The totally eclipsed Moon is an eerie and awe-inspiring faint red disk," says Carkner. With a telescope, or even with the naked eye, the shadow's progress can be observed across the Moon's craters, highlands, and the Maria, or dark portions of the Moon.  The totality phase of this particular lunar eclipse will last over 70 minutes and its timing favors North America.

Dr. Carkner will be joined by other Augustana faculty and students in leading the programs. In addition to the 14-inch reflector in the Carl Gamble Observatory and telescopes on the grounds, a planetarium show on the wonders of the night sky will be offered.

The Fryxell Geology Museum, which features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest, will also be open to the public.  Available for viewing are a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, the wall of glowing, fluorescent rocks and the complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica.

The observing areas are unheated so dress appropriate to the weather. In the event of cloudy sky conditions, telescope views may not be possible but the indoor programs will still be offered.