Saturday, November 08, 2003

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Total Eclipse of the MoonA total lunar eclipse is a celestial event of great majesty and grace. Among early civilizations, the eclipse was feared as an ominous sign of disaster, death, war and famine. Today, we recognize the eclipse as a simple consequence of the Moon's orbital motion around Earth.

A lunar eclipse has no great importance astronomically but can be enjoyed by many people without special equipment.

Skywatchers should train their eyes on the Moon from 2215 GMT, when it enters the outer edges of our planet's shadow.

Mid-eclipse takes place between 0106 and 0131 GMT Sunday as the Moon transits the southern edge of the Earth's shadow. Totality is quite short this time because the Moon only passes just inside the full shadow of the Earth, and the Moon's southern edge, in particular, should remain fairly bright.

As the show progresses, the Moon will get dimmer and, possibly, turn reddish during mid-eclipse, when the only light that can reach the lunar surface is red light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere.

The Moon leaves the last bit of shadow at 0422 GMT.

Let's hope it's not cloudy...

BBCi - Red Moon set to dive behind Earth
RAS - Lunar Eclipse Visible On 8/9 November

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