Students and community members are invited to observe and celebrate tonight's distinctive and rare "blood moon" total lunar eclipse, at a special viewing party at the Pomona College's Brackett Observatory (400 N. Amherst Drive, Claremont), home to two 14" Celestron telescopes on computerized Paramount systems. The event will be held from approximately 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.

"The moon will be completely blocked by Earth's shadow and will turn to a ghostly brownish red color. Next to the moon will be Mars, which is close to opposition, giving viewers a pair of red celestial wonders," notes Pomona Astronomy Professor Bryan Penprase.

"Some have called this type of lunar eclipse a ‘blood moon' from the red color. It is also the first of four lunar eclipses over the next two years – quite an unusual grouping in such a short timeframe."

Penprase, a talented communicator on the starry skies, will be on hand with students from his Astronomy 51 class. Students will play bongo drums. Moon pies and root beer floats will be served.

Penprase, whose research topics are related to spectroscopic observations of the intergalactic and interstellar medium, has observed the skies with telescopes such as the Australian AAT, the observatories of CTIO and ESO in Chile, Caltech's telescopes on Mauna Kea and at Palomar, and the Nordic Optical telescope in La Palma, Spain.

He is chair of the Higher Education Working Group, NASA California Space Grant Consortium, and has given astronomy tours and talks since 1986 at the Yerkes Observatory, in Wisconsin, and public sky shows at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and in Claremont. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from the University of Chicago.

Parking for the event is located in the parking structure at 295 East First Street (at Columbia).