Lunar eclipse blues? Google is offering a bunch of options for astronomy fans marooned in North America.
The very first lunar eclipse of 2011 –– and also the longest lunar eclipse since 2000 –– will begin Wednesday afternoon at around 1:24 EDT. For space lovers and astronomy geeks, that is the good news. This is the bad news: The lunar eclipse will only be visible to people in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Just about everywhere, in other words, but North America.
Which has really, really bummed out the tech team at Google. "[W]hen we learned that part of the world will be treated to a rare 100-minute long total lunar eclipse.... we were both excited and disappointed that this rare occasion wouldn’t be visible from our Mountain View campus," Noel Gorelick, Google's "Chief Extraterrestrial Observer," wrote in a blog post today.
Luckily, Gorelick and his pals had a solution: Google has hooked up with Slooh Space Camera, a kind of Web 2.0 astronomy club, to provide a live feed of the lunar eclipse. Interested? You've got some options. You can watch the eclipse from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST on the Google YouTube channel. You can download the Slooh Android app. You can select the "sky" layer on Google Earth.
Or, best of all, you can navigate over to the Slooh-hosted "mission interface," which is powered by the Google App Engine. With the mission interface, you'll get some sleek-looking graphics, some cool effects, and also "audio narrations from real-life astronomers so you can hear a firsthand, expert account of the event." Sounds pretty rad to us.
Happy lunar eclipse watching.