Utahns watching the sky during the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec.10, will be treated to an eclipse of the Moon.
According to NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, "The dark, easily visible part of the eclipse will start about 5:45 a.m. MST when the Moon is low in the western sky."
While this will be a total eclipse, Wiggins cautions that before totality arrives about 7:05 a.m. the Moon will probably have set for most Utahns and the the brightening skies of approaching dawn will surely wash out the show for everyone else.
While Utahans may not have the best view of December's eclipse, they've a front row seat for an eclipse of the Sun next May. Though not a total eclipse, most of the Sun will be covered for most of the state. And for those in a narrow swath that passes through central Utah all but a thin, delicate ring of Sun will be covered creating what astronomers call an annular eclipse.
Wiggins created an illustration showing the appearance of May's eclipse at maximum from various locations around Utah and Nevada. It can be found at: http://users.wirelessbeehive.com/~paw/temp/appearance.jpg
The next total eclipse of the Sun to be visible from Utah will not occur until 2045 although one will pass just north of the state in 2017.
Eclipses of the Moon occur when the Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth, while eclipses of the Sun are caused by the Earth passing into the shadow of the Moon.
For additional eclipse information, including a chart showing the path of May's annular eclipse and a chart listing all eclipses visible from Utah through 2025, visit Wiggins' Solar System Ambassador web site at http://utahastro.info .