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New Mexico State University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Astronomy
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Please join us at the campus observatory at 9:00pm on Friday, April 24 for a guided tour of the night sky. Professor Nancy Chanover will present a short astronomical talk, joined by graduate students Jeremy Emmett, Jean McKeever, and Carlos Vargas as your guides to the night sky.

Objects to be observed include the planet Jupiter, the Beehive Cluster, the Eskimo Nebula, the Moon, and the Orion Nebula.

Children are particularly welcome!


There will be a total eclipse of the Moon in the early morning of Saturday, April 4. This will be an extremely short event, with totality lasting less than five minutes. Telescopes or binoculars won't be needed, but the eclipse is best observed away from the glare of city lights. Because this eclipse occurs just before the Moon sets, observers will need an unobstructed view of the western horizon.

The eclipse will begin at 3:01 a.m. MDT, when the Moon first enters the penumbral shadow of the Earth. This will be hardly noticeable to Earthbound observers, appearing as a slow dimming of the Moon's brightness. In this stage of the eclipse the Earth, as seen from the Moon, blocks out only a portion of the Sun's light. The main partial phase of the eclipse begins as the Moon first enters the Earth's umbral shadow at 4:15 a.m. The sharp edge of this darker shadow will appear to move across the face of the Moon. An astronaut on the shadowed part of the Moon would now see the Earth completely covering the Sun. The eclipse becomes total, with the Moon fully in the umbral shadow, at 5:58 a.m. Totality will last only 4 minutes and 43 seconds, ending just before 6:03 a.m. From then to 7:44 a.m., the Moon moves out of umbra during a second partial phase of the eclipse. However, local sunrise is at 6:27 a.m. and the Moon sets at 6:58 a.m. so the end of the umbral phase at 7:44 a.m. and the penumbral phase at 8:51 a.m. will be missed.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the full Moon passes into the shadow of the Earth. Eclipses occur at roughly six-month intervals. This eclipse is unusual in that it is the third in a sequence of four consecutive total lunar eclipses. The fourth will occur Sept. 28.


Our hats go off to our six astronomy graduate students (shown below) who participated in the NMSU College of Arts & Sciences Three-Minute Thesis Competition on April 5, 2014. Students had three minutes each to present a thesis project (on one slide) and make the case in as compelling a fashion as possible, in an event designed to encourage graduate students to polish their communication skills and engage an audience.

Our students did us all proud! Graduate research fellow Kyle Uckert (third from left) won first place in the compeition with his solar system presentation, while Kyle Degrave (second from right) scored a third place win for his talk on helioseismology. Just imagine what they'll be able to cover in 45 minutes for a full PhD thesis presentation ...

Congratulations to graduate students Sean Markert, winner of the 2014 Pegasus Award for excellence in teaching, and to Kyle Degrave, who was recently awarded the 2014 Zia Award for excellence in research. Joining them are the 2013 winner of the Murrell Award for outstanding research or professional development, Maria Patterson, and Kenza Arraki, winner of the 2013 Rappaport Award for outstanding public service.