A total eclipse of the moon on Wednesday will offer stargazers a rare chance to see both an eclipsed moon and a rising sun at the same moment, thanks to an optical trick played by the earth’s atmosphere.
The upcoming eclipse will be the second this year and part of a series of four total lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015. The hour-long event will be most visible in the Western Pacific, Asian Far East, New Zealand and Australia’s eastern coast.
Observers east of the Mississippi River in the United States, an area where the moon will only be partially visible when earth’s shadow covers it, will be rewarded for braving the early hours of Wednesday just before sunrise with a rare viewing of a selenation, reports Space.com.
It’s a seemingly impossible occurrence when the eclipsed setting moon, together with a rising sun, are visible in the sky simultaneously. The event happens due to an atmospheric trick that refracts the light coming from the two celestial bodies making them appear just over the horizon when in fact they are just below it.
Depending on the location, there will be an open window of about 2 to 9 minutes when it will be possible to catch the rising sun in the east and the eclipsed moon setting in the west. Seeing them would also require favorable weather conditions and perhaps the use of binoculars or a telescope.
Also, the planet Uranus will be situated next to the moon during the eclipse and should be bright enough to identify with binoculars.