Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Early Tuesday there will be a celestial event involving the moon, said Todd Shepherd, Cowley College astronomy professor and department chairman of the social sciences.

A full eclipse of the moon will occur starting at 4:10 a.m. Tuesday and will continue over the course of the next hour. Instead of gradually disappearing from the sky, the moon may turn red, Shepherd said.

"I've actually seen the moon disappear or turn a reddish color," Shepherd said. "It depends on the atmospheric conditions."

Early today, sky-watchers were supposed to be able to see two moons -- earth's moon, and Mars up close. But that information -- passed around on the Internet -- turned out to be a hoax, a local astronomy teacher said.

Shepherd said the timing of the Internet hoax with the real event was a coincidence.

"The Mars thing is a hoax; it never appears anything bigger than a bright spot in the sky," he said. "About a year or a year and a half ago, the same rumor was spread around."

About 5 a.m. Tuesday, the moon should be in total eclipse, Shepherd said.

"We haven't had (a lunar eclipse) in about a year in this area," he said.

There is a shred of truth to the Internet myth, Shepherd added. The earth and Mars are approaching each other's orbits at a speed of 22,000 miles per hour.

"Since Mars moves slower in its orbit, earth is more quickly catching up to Mars," he said. On Dec. 18, the two will be as close as they will get to each other, about 55 million miles apart.

At that time, Mars will appear to be a bright red star, a dominant feature in the southern sky, Shepherd said.

Check your Horoscope that day if the eclipse had bring you luck!