I am going to take a week off from writing a longer post, but I will still be doing something special to feed my favorite hobby of Astronomy. I am excited and honored to share with you that I will be a contributor on Slooh.com’s Sunday night broadcast of the lunar eclipse! Slooh is a network of international, online observatories that allow members the opportunity to do realtime astronomical observation and astrophotography from one of three telescopes – two on the Canary Islands and one in Chile. I am a member of Slooh and have greatly enjoyed utilizing this service personally and for educational purposes.
So, what will I be contributing? A lunar eclipse, in addition to being beautiful, also reveals information about the earth’s atmosphere. It is because of our atmosphere that the moon takes on the orange-red appearance. When the earth is directly between the sun and moon, the atmosphere “filters out” much of the color spectrum, but does not filter out the orange-red spectrum. Therefore, the reddish/orange appearance of the moon during a lunar eclipse is because of the glow from our atmosphere that is being reflected by the moon. The color, its lightness, or its darkness can provide insight into the health and condition of the earth’s atmosphere. In light of this (pun intended), I will be connecting this phenomena with Pope Francis’ Encyclical, Laudato Si’, explaining how the “report card” we get from the eclipse should remind us of our papal “homework” of caring for our common home.
This will be the first time I will be representing “The Catholic Astronomer” apart from our blog or our Diocesan media in La Crosse. We will be pre-recording a couple spots today since I have a night mass with our college students at the time of the broadcast. The spots will be about ten minutes each and I’m not sure where they will be placed in the broadcast. Therefore, you might need to listen for a while to hear “yours truly.” I ask for your prayers that everything goes well and I invite you to tune into the show (and look up into the sky) on Sunday night! The show begins at 8:00pm central (9:00pm eastern) and you can find the show at: www.slooh.com.
Here is a summary video of the April 2015 lunar eclipse!