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The moon will pass through the darkest part of the earth's shadow, called the umbra, next Wednesday [FEB. 20] for a total lunar eclipse.

The East Central University Observatory will be open to the public from 8:30-9:30 p.m. for those wishing to see the eclipse through a telescope, weather permitting.

"However," said Dr. Carl Rutledge, co-chair of ECU's department of chemistry and physics, "the eclipse will be easily visible to the naked eye and is not dangerous to watch. Binoculars will provide a good view."

First contact, when the moon first touches the umbra, will be about 7:45 p.m. As time passes, the partial phase will progress with the moon becoming increasingly covered by darkness, Rutledge said.

"By around 9 p.m. the moon will be completely inside the umbra and totality will have begun," he said. "At near 10 p.m. the moon will begin to emerge from the umbra and totality will end, but the moon will not be completely out of the umbra until the eclipse ends at approximately 11:10 p.m.

"Some news media have already incorrectly reported the date of the eclipse as Feb. 21," he added. "However, this is when the eclipse occurs in Greenwich, England. It will still be Feb. 20 here, as the time difference is six hours."

Rutledge said the next total lunar eclipse visible from Ada will be on Dec. 21, 2010, at 2:16 a.m., and the next one at a convenient evening observing time will not be until Aug. 27, 2015, at 9:49 p.m.

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