For Princeton area residents who couldn’t get enough of last month’s solar eclipse or were not able to experience it firsthand, another celestial opportunity will present itself on September 20. On that night, the moon will be totally obscured from view with 0% illumination, according to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This phenomenon will be viewable across a wide swath of the planet, in a broad band that stretches from Earth’s north pole to its south one.
Some residents have talked about organizing viewing parties in various townships, notably in the parking lot outside the now-closed Tilted Kilt in South Brunswick. The best locations for viewing if you cannot make it to one of the organized events are those not under a tree or carport. Asked for advice on where best to witness this phenomenon, Larry Blithers of the Helmetta Department of Health and Recreation said, “Outside your house. Yeah, definitely outside.”
NOAA’s website confirms that no special glasses are required to look at the moon during the event, which will last pretty much all night. Amateur photographers will want to use a tripod and point their cameras at random places in the sky, because, well, you won’t be able to see the moon.
The once-in-a-while event is called a “new moon” by scientists who study the skies closely. This is a bit confusing, complains Chet Whomper, a substitute remedial math teacher in Ewing. “I don’t know why it’s called a new anything if you can’t see a damned thing.”
Residents who miss this exciting event won’t have to be disappointed for long. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the next such total darkening of the moon will occur before the expiration date on the carton of milk in your fridge.