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Live on the West Coast? Wake Up Early Saturday to See a Lunar Eclipse

The second total lunar eclipse of 2011, and the last until 2014, will occur before sunrise Saturday, and people in Alaska, Hawaii, the West Coast and some Western states will enjoy the best viewing opportunities in the U.S.

Check local media reports to learn the best time to observe the eclipse. As the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner and Seattle Times explain, early-rising residents will be able to see a red shadow begin progressing across the moon at 4:45 a.m. until totality is achieved at 6:05 a.m. It will last until nearly 7 a.m. But before the moon emerges from earth's shadow, it will dip below the horizon.

According to, the eclipse will be a "nonevent" east of the Appalachian Mountains. In the Midwest, earth's shadow will only cover half of the moon before the moon sets.

The website also reports that, because the eclipse occurs close to sunrise, people in parts of the U.S. and Canada can observe a "selenelion," an uncommon event when both the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time. Discover magazine astronomy blogger Phil Plait offers a good explanation of the phenomenon in his report on the forthcoming eclipse.

Other lunar eclipse resources:

On his website, photographer Michael Frye offers tips for capturing images of an eclipse.

Watch Saturday's eclipse live via computer on SLOOH, an online space camera.

Watch a video of the June 15, 2011 total lunar eclipse, which was not visible in North America: offers an "infographic" on what causes a lunar eclipse.

NASA offers an eclipse website, a page dedicated to lunar eclipses and a video explanation of how a lunar eclipse works.

Eclipses in pop culture: The Twilight saga gave us an Eclipse installment in 2010; Bonnie Tyler achieved one-hit-wonder status in the big-hair era (1983) with "Total Eclipse of the Heart"; and, for a less-celebrated but entirely worthwhile pop-music reference to the moon, does anyone else remember this uplifting, mid-'80s pop nugget from the Waterboys  (out of the U.K.), "The Whole of the Moon"?

Have any lunar eclipse stories to share? Howling, baying, that sort of thing? Plan to get outside and see this one? If so, enjoy the view.

Photo: NASA.

Posted on at 2:18 PM

Tagged: eclipse and lunar eclipse

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"Eclipse" was also the last song on Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon"; usually, it's appended to the end of "Brain Damage" for radio play, as the one segues neatly into the other.

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I got up, went out, there it was about 45 minutes before total eclipse. Got dressed, tossed all my gear in the rig, found a good spot to start shooting... only to have clouds roll in and obscure it.


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