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WCU, SCC hosting lunar eclipse viewing at Jackson County Airport

Members of the astronomy faculties at Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College are joining together to host a viewing of a total lunar eclipse during the late evening hours of Sunday, Jan. 20, and early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 21.

The faculty members will be on hand with telescopes to give attendees a good view of the eclipse and will talk about the science of eclipses during the event at the Jackson County Airport.

The partial eclipse will begin at 10:33 p.m. on Jan. 20, and totality will start at 11:41 p.m. and last for a little over an hour, said Enrique Gomez, WCU associate professor of physics and astronomy. Those attending should plan on arriving no later than 10 p.m. All are encouraged to prepare for cold conditions by dressing in layers and to bring lawn chairs, Gomez said.

Lunar eclipses occur when the moon enters the shadow of the Earth, and that happens when the moon is located at the intersection of the Earth’s orbital plane and the moon’s orbit. This will be the last lunar eclipse visible from North America until July 5, 2020, Gomez said. Lunar eclipses can be viewed safely with the naked eye.

In case of overcast skies, extremely cold conditions or generally bad weather, the viewing will be canceled. For more information, contact Gomez at 828-227-2718.

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