Total Lunar Eclipse Open House

Observatory and Planetarium
Augustana College
820 38th Street
Rock Island, Illinois

Sunday, January 20, 2019, 9:30-11:30 pm

The John Deere Planetarium will present a public program on Sunday night, January 20, 2019, in conjunction with the total eclipse of the Moon. The planetarium will be open from 9:30 pm until 11:30 pm, with indoor and outdoor programs in the planetarium, the Carl Gamble Observatory, and the building's grounds. There is no charge for admission.

According to Dr. Lee Carkner, director of the John Deere Planetarium and Professor of Physics at Augustana, a lunar eclipse occurs when the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon is such that the Earth blocks the sunlight that normally makes the Moon shine. "During the eclipse, the Moon is slowly covered and then uncovered by the Earth’s shadow. The totally eclipsed Moon is an eerie and awe-inspiring faint red disk," says Carkner. With a telescope, or even with the naked eye, the shadow’s progress can be observed across the Moon's craters, highlands, and the Maria, or dark portions of the Moon. 


Dr. Carkner will be joined by other Augustana faculty and students in leading the programs. In addition to the 14-inch reflector in the observatory and telescopes on the grounds, a planetarium show on the wonders of the night sky will be offered.


The Fryxell Geology Museum, which features one of the best collections of minerals and fossils in the Midwest, will also be open to the public. Highlights in the museum include a wall of glowing, fluorescent rocks, and casts of a Tyrannosaurus rex skull, and a complete 22-foot long skeleton of Cryolophosaurus, a large crested carnivorous dinosaur discovered in Antarctica.


The observatory is unheated so please dress according to the weather. In the event of cloudy sky conditions, the planetarium presentation will still be offered.