Take a break from the frenzy of filing your tax returns and view the total eclipse of the moon close up in the early morning Tuesday, April 15, at Northwestern University’s Dearborn Observatory.
Weather permitting, the eclipse-viewing event will occur from 1 to 4 a.m. The last total lunar eclipse visible from the Chicago metropolitan area was in December 2010.
The historic observatory on the Evanston campus will be open to the media and the public with its main telescope -- once the largest refracting telescope in the world -- providing a close-up view of the moon as it passes through the Earth’s shadow.
Graduate and undergraduate students will be on hand to answer questions and operate the telescope.
The observatory, which is not heated, is located at 2131 Tech Drive, just north of Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and east of Sheridan Road. (For maps of campus, go to http://www.northwestern.edu/campus-life/campuses/maps/index.html.)
“The total phase, when the shadow completely covers the moon, is from 2:06 to 3:24 a.m.Chicago time,” said Northwestern’s Michael Smutko, who organized the Dearborn Observatory viewing event, “but my favorite times are the partial phases before and after totality, when you can see the Earths’ shadow moving across the moon.”
Smutko is a distinguished senior lecturer in physics and astronomy in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He notes the Adler will host a “Lunar Eclipse Viewing Party” from 12:01 to 4 a.m. April 15 with special lectures and programs. (The Adler event will be held rain or shine.)
The next total lunar eclipse viewable from Chicago is not until Oct. 8, 2014, but Chicago will miss part of that show -- the moon will set before the eclipse ends. The next opportunity for Chicago to view a full lunar eclipse will be in September 2015.
For up-to-date information on the Northwestern event, go to ciera.northwestern.edu/observatory.php.