Tonight the Moon will enter Earth’s shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse that will be visible as attendees and Makers stream away from the sixth annual World Maker Faire here in New York.
Beginning at 8:11 p.m., reaching maximum extent just over two hours later at 10:47 p.m., and lasting 5 hours and 11 minutes in total, the eclipse will turn the Moon red and orange. This reddened coloration is due to the Earth’s atmosphere, which acts like a lens, bending red sunlight into the planet’s shadow and towards the Moon, and scattering out blue light. In other words, the Moon will be red for the same reason sunrises and sunsets are red.
Tonight’s moon is also a so-called “supermoon.” This occurs when when a full, or new, moon coincides with the Moon nearing its minimum distance to the Earth (orbital perigee). But despite what you might have heard, it won’t cause earthquakes and volcanos. You’ll also not notice any difference in size or brightness by eye; tonight’s full moon will look pretty much like every other full moon you’ve ever seen. Well, apart from the glorious red color you’ll see during the eclipse.
However, tonight’s lunar eclipse isn’t the first eclipse visible from a Maker Faire. Back in 2012 we enjoyed a partial solar eclipse, with more than 90% of the Sun’s disc obscured, at the faire in the Bay Area.
Many of the attendees got a great view of the eclipse through the tiny gaps between tree leaves. The gaps acted as pinhole lenses, projecting crescent-shaped likenesses of the eclipsed Sun onto surfaces.
However, our video team was also on the job, and they built an exceedingly unconventional camera rig to observe and live stream the event.
“We live streamed the eclipse from the faire with welding glass in front of a 500mm lens on a camera with a 2× crop factor — which means the lens effectively had a 1m focal length…” —Nat Heckathorn
Now, anyone want to spend the time to sit down and figure out the next time we’ll see a solar or a lunar eclipse from a maker faire? Maybe our guide to astronomical wonders can help you out!