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Peeking Through The Clouds

Lunar & Planetary
Photo © 2003 Rick Day
The May 15th Total Lunar Eclipse

From: The Cosmic Citizen ­ Official newsletter of the AOAS - Volume XVIII, Number 3, June / July 2003

The most horrific month for tornadoes in history broke its reign just long enough for some die­hard amateur astronomers and our guests to view a very dark Total Lunar Eclipse on May 15that the Ft Smith Art Center at 423 N. 6th Street downtown.

I must admit, it did not look like we'd be able to see anything as the afternoon of the 15th wore on. The clouds kept building and moving in from the west and the Weather Channel only showed more to come all the way back to western Oklahoma. But at7:45 PM, a glint of sunlight crept out from under a break in the clouds, and I decided to make the trip over, even if it meant a wasted trip.

Sure as the world, if I didn't go, there'd be people who would show up and wonder where I was. As I rounded the corner of 5th and "D". I couldn't believe my eyes. At least 40 to 50 people were waiting in the parking lot of the Ft Smith Little Theatre, and about 10 of those were members with telescopes. Thank goodness for that little glint of sunlight!!!

By the time the partially eclipsed moon began peeking through the broken clouds, our crowd was down to 35 to 40 people. Even though we lost sight of the moon periodically, what we did see was impressive. Just before second contact the moon showed only faint hints of the reddish color we all expected. (See photo)

After totality began, the moon virtually disappeared. For me it was the darkest eclipse since the "black moon" of December 1992. We waited it out, and got our eclipse!
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