A lunar eclipse (Feb. 20)

February 18, 2008

The weather lately reminds me of the forecasts we sometimes used to hear when we lived in Germany. On days when the weather patterns had them stumped, the meteorologists would foretell “wechselhaft,” or changeable, conditions … and then I always imagined they’d go down to the nearest Gasthaus for beer and schnitzel to avoid angry phone calls. The weather reports here tend to be more specific, but whenever I hear the magic words “with periods of” I mentally substitute wechselhaft and figure no one really knows what’s going to hit us next.

It’s not the greatest forecast for viewing the lunar eclipse on Wednesday, Feb. 20. But the nice thing about lunar eclipses is that as long as you have a window facing the moon, you don’t have to go outside to enjoy them. This eclipse begins at 7:43 p.m., when the earth’s shadow gradually begins to cover the moon. It reaches a full eclipse around 9 p.m. and stays for about an hour before gradually concluding around 11 p.m.

One of the local public viewing spots is Quail Ridge Park in St. Charles County, where the parks department invites everyone to meet at the lodge around 7:30 p.m. Registration is encouraged for individuals and required for groups (636.949.7535). The park, at Interstate 70 and Highway 40/61, happens to be home to the National Horseshoe Pitchers’ Association Hall of Fame. Sometime when the weather’s less wechselhaft, you might want to stop by and play a few games at the pits the association maintains there for public use. But don’t be put off by the weather for viewing the eclipse — it’s the last one visible here until December 2010.

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