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Total Eclipse of the Supermoon! A special Skygazing Night Hike at Mason Mill Park

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: NE Atlanta near Clairmont Rd & I-85   Hike: Total Eclipse of the Supermoon! A special Skygazing Night Hike at Mason Mill Park  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sun, Jan 20 2019  10:00 pm >> Mon, Jan 21 2019 12:00 am
Registration Opens: Wed, Jan 9 2019 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Sun, Jan 20 2019 7:00 pm
Event Duration:2 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D1: Easy
Distance:2 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Charlie Cottingham
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:15
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 27 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: Yes


The Photo Collage above:  The time-lapse photos depicts the progressive phases of a lunar eclipse over about 5 hours.  The full moon's orbit takes it through the Earth's dark shadow, with near-perfect alignment of the moon with the Earth and Sun during "totality." 
Sunday night's Weather forecast:  The really good news is that  we can expect to have virtually cloud-free skies
 during the Eclipse, with continuous outstanding views of the moon and the stars.  The only bad news is that it will be a bit colder and windier than average for January - likely about 30 degrees at 10:00 and dropping into the high-20s, with a chill factor several degrees lower.  Let's each just BUNDLE UP in several warm upper & lower layers + woolen socks, cap & gloves and we can be as comfortable as we like!  - Charlie, updated on Sun Jan 20th at 3:30 PM
Note to Non-attending Members:  If you'd like to see the eclipse but can't join us for this group viewing, simply walk outside wherever you are at various times near midnight on Jan 20th beginning at about 10:15 PM EST.   Look for the full moon and if its not obscured by clouds you should have similar views of the eclipse's phases as we expect to from Mason Mill Park, per its "Timetable" below and shadow diagram of the moon's motion through the "Penumbra and Umbra."

On the night of Sunday Jan 20th the heavens have a nice treat in store for earthbound skygazers in the western hemisphere (weather permitting) - a total Lunar Eclipse!  Hope you can join us for an AOC group viewing of this amazing phenomenon which will include the bonus of a short AOC night hike.  As hyped by the news media lately, the full moon at the time of this eclipse will be a so-called "Supermoon" - meaning that it is close to "perigee" in its elliptical ~30-day orbit around the Earth, and therefore will be about 10% closer and 20% bigger & brighter than the average monthly full moon. During an eclipse the moon is also called a "Blood Moon" since the refraction of sunlight around the Earth (and "Rayleigh scattering") turns it a reddish hue (as in the middle 3 photos of the above collage).  BTW, a nickname for January's full moon is the "Wolf Moon" - a native-American term based on wolves' tendency to howl at the moon on cold winter nights.
Between about 10:00 PM and Midnight we can expect to witness the Eclipse's various phases (Penumbral, Partial and Total) as depicted in the right half of the above photo sequence.  Although our good old "naked eyes" are fine, and perfectly safe, for observing lunar eclipses, we'll have some binoculars on hand to share. and I'll have my green laser pointer to point out various stars, constellations, etc.  My friend and fellow astonomy buff Herm Donatelliplans to bring his lightweight "spotting telescope" for sharing views of the moon's craters, etc. during the eclipse.

We'll gather a few minutes before 10:00 PM just inside the Mason Mill Park entrance, by the stone restroom building that adjoins the free parking lot.  (See detailed Directions & GPS Info below). We may already be noticing some "penumbral" darkening of the Moon when we arrive as it slowly orbits from right to left into a portion of the Earth's shadow. (See "Eclipse Timetable" below.)  After introductions we''ll begin with an easy 1-hour hike (about 2 miles) on the lovely trails that connect Mason Mill & Medlock Parks, during which we expect to have lots of glimpses of the full Moon as it continues to rise higher in the southeastern sky and continues to darken.   By about 10:15 we plan to be atop the high wooden deck on the PATH Trail, ~1/4 mile from our cars, and at about 10:33 we should see a well-defined shadow appearing and slowly increasing in size on the left side of the moon as it begins to enter the Earth's dark "umbra" for the "Partial Phase" of the Eclipse.  The deck will also be a fine spot for viewing the eerie Total Phase of the Eclipse (when the moon is entirely within the umbra, for about an hour beginning at ~11:41 PM).
We also expect to see lots of 
other interesting sky objects.  During the eclipse the moon will have the bright "twin stars" of Gemini, Castor and Pollux nearby and "pointing" toward the moon.  To the right (west) of the moon will be the giant-hunter constellation Orion, with his dog Canis Major nearby with its "dog star," Sirius - brightest in the entire sky At an appropriate time between ~10:30 and midnight we'll continue our planned leisurely ~2-mile hike from the deck along the PATH trail to Medlock Park and back, during which we can expect to have more-or-less continuous views of the eclipse and the stars.

At about Midnight - after observing totality for about 20 minutes, weather permitting - we'll officially end the event and take the short walk together back to our cars.  Feel free to remain and observe longer if you wish - also feel free to "split" early from the group if you like at any time, but please let us know when you do so - it will be easy to direct you back to the parking lot.

ECLIPSE PHASE TIMETABLE for the Western Hemisphere using Eastern Standard Time:
The corresponding diagram below shows the full moon's progress from right to left through the penumbra and umbra. 
  9:36 PM: 1st Penumbral phase begins as the Earth blocks some rays of the Sun from reaching the left (eastern) side
                  of the Moon, with a gradual slight darkening over the next ~57 minutes.
10:33 PM: 1st Partial phase begins as the Earth's very dark "Umbra" causes a distinct crescent shadow to appear and grow on the Moon's east side.
11:41 PM: Total Eclipse phase begins as the Moon completely enters the umbra and no direct rays of sunlight are reaching the Moon..
                  The fully-eclipsed full Moon will likely appear reddish due to "Rayleigh scattering" and refraction of sunlight through the Earth's atmosphere.
12:12 AM: Mid-Totality: Moment when the Moon has reached its centermost point within the dark umbral shadow-cone.
12:43 AM: 2nd Partial Phase begins.  A  crescent of direct sunlight appears on the Moon's east side
 as it re-enters the penumbra, ending totality.
  1:50 AM: 2nd Penumbral Phase begins as the entire Moon exits the umbral cone and begins to regain its full brightness.
  2:48 AM: Eclipse Ends as the entire Moon is at full brightness again and the Earth is no longer blocking any of the sun's direct rays.

diagram of sun, Earth, and moon

This diagram shows the full moon's orbit taking it eastward (right to left) through
the dark cone of the Earth's umbral shadow and its lighter surrounding penumbra.
The Earth is also orbiting (the Sun) from right to left, but slower than the moon.

Mason Mill and Medlock are two pretty DeKalb County parks located just east of Clairmont Road near Emory University and the VA Hospital.  They conveniently connect with one another via a network of hiking/biking paths and boardwalks.  The mile-long South Peachtree Creek Trail is the main trail through this shady corridor, and like the better known Silver Comet Trail it was designed and built to the high standards of the "PATH Foundation."  The trail features a half-mile-long raised deck through the forest canopy above the rocky creek.  Another exciting portion of this trail takes us over the railroad track via a 3-stories-high wooden walkway and deck.  Hikers are treated here to aerial views of the restored ruins of the early-20th-Century Decatur Waterworks, and the high deck is also a great spot for viewing sunsets, the moon, stars & planets, eclipses, comets and meteor showers.
  Lots of creekside spur trails branch from the PATH trail into the surrounding forest and offer lots of fun optional places to explore on the return hike.  One such spur takes us on stepping stones across Peachtree Creek to Ira Melton Park with its half-mile-long white-blazed loop trail.
  Another option (but more suitable for a 3-hour hike) is to walk a few blocks beyond Medlock to lovely Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve and include a short "wetlands" loop there before heading back via Medlock to our vehicles at Mason Mill.

CLICK here for an INTERACTIVE MAP / SATELLITE VIEW of the "PATH" SOUTH PEACHTREE CREEK TRAIL and its interconnecting DeKalb County parks (Mason Mill, Medlock, Ira Melton & Clyde Shepherd - also Emory's Lullwater Park):

Required Items to Bring:

• Wear comfortable well-broken-in Athletic Shoes or Hiking Boots and layered Clothing + cap, gloves, etc. appropriate for the weather.

• Hydrate in advance and consider carrying in your Daypack or Fanny Pack a filled Water Bottle or your "Camelbak" or other hydration system.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

- Although we'll have ambient light from the full moon, streetlights, etc. we suggest bringing a lightweight Headlamp or flashlight - also your own Binoculars if you have a pair.

- Consider bringing a couple of Snacks, pieces of Fruit, etc.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

FROM the I-85 CLAIRMONT ROAD EXIT in NE METRO ATLANTA to our MASON MILL PARK Meetup Spot:   (For a zoomable color MAP and satellite view of this spot and its vicinity click on the square blue & green "Event Location" near the top of this article.)

1. From the I-85 "Clairmont Road" Exit (Exit #91) in NE Atlanta take Clairmont Rd southward (toward Decatur) about 2.3 miles to the traffic light at McConnell Drive.  (This is the next light south of the big Clairmont/ North Druid Hills intersection.  If you reach the huge VA Hospital you've gone 1/2 mile too far!)

2. Turn Left onto McConnell Drive, go just 0.1 mile, and turn Right at the stop sign to stay on McConnell. 
(Note the small "Mason Mill" directional sign here.)

3. Then turn Left almost immediately at the
 "Mason Mill Park" entrance sign into the large free parking lot.  We'll gather by the stone Restroom building near the Park entrance, adjoining the kids' playground.

GPS and USERS:  Feel free to augment my above verbal directions by entering as your Destination Address these concise Lat/Lon coordinates for our meetup spot, being sure to include the comma and minus sign:  33.8079, -84.3066

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost Includes:

Free Event with Free Parking!

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.