FOR THOSE WHO ARE ON GOOD TERMS with the weather gods, on Monday, June 4, there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon to enjoy.
A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. If it goes through the middle of the shadow, it is a total lunar eclipse. If it “cuts the corner” of the shadow, we get a partial eclipse.
There are usually two or three lunar eclipses each year, but they’re not always visible from the same place. From any particular spot on Earth, you might see one or two per year.
The Moon will begin to move into the darkest part of Earth’s shadow at 8:00pm, Sydney time on Monday, June 4. In Perth, it will already be underway by the time the Moon rises. Mid-eclipse will be at 9:00pm Sydney time, and the whole thing will be over by 10:05pm, Sydney time.
At mid-eclipse, about 40% of the Moon’s diameter will be covered by Earth’s shadow – it might even go a reddish colour from sunlight bent through Earth’s atmosphere. Then the Moon will slowly move out of the shadow.
As long as the weather is clear, you won’t have any difficulty spotting the Moon and the eclipse. You won’t need a telescope or binoculars to see it – just your own eyes are enough. And unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to watch.
They also happen slowly, so the best idea is to go outside every 15 minutes or so and see how it has changed.
Here’s a video from NASA that shows what stargazers in North America can expect to see:
After this, the next big eclipse for Australians will be a total eclipse of the Sun on the morning of Nov 14, 2012 – the last one to be seen in Australia until the year 2028! Totality will be seen only along a narrow swathe of far north Queensland near Cairns. Everyone else will see a partial eclipse.
Story by Jonathan Nally, editor, SpaceInfo.com.au
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