Best. Lunar Eclipse. Ever. (July 2018)

This Friday night and Saturday morning is the best time to see the best lunar eclipse ever!!

Okay, slight exaggeration but this lunar eclipse is definitely the longest for 100 years! And it is visible almost everywhere in the world… except for Northern America. Considering they had the solar eclipse last year, I think they will survive.

What is a Lunar Eclipse?

As covered in a similar post earlier this year, a lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth and into its shadow. The Moon does not have its own light source; that big pizza pie in the sky is reflecting light from the Sun on to the Earth. So when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned, it means the Moon will pass into the shadow of the Earth. This also means a lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon. Waxing and Waning Moons occur due to the odd-angle the Moon sits relative to the Earth and the Sun.

The great news is you don’t need any special equipment; no funky glasses or special telescopes. Just pull up a seat and gaze at the moon. Bring snacks as well because lunar eclipses can last a while, and this one is the longest. Experts (like NASA and the Sydney Observatory) advise the moon will be eclipsed for one hour and 43 minutes!! During this time, we have the greatest opportunity to witness a “Blood Moon”.

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Wait… What is a Blood Moon?

Some cultures used to refer to a total lunar eclipse as a blood moon. When the direct sunlight is completely blocked, the only other light seen is refracted through Earth’s shadow. This light looks red because of the ‘Rayleigh scattering‘ – that’s the scattering of light by particles.

Light, as we see it, is a spectrum of colours. When it is refracted (or split) through the atmosphere, we can see different colours. This is most noticeable with the blue sky and the different colours in sunsets due to dust particles in the air. For a lunar eclipse, the Sun’s light refracts around the edge of the Earth and hits the Moon. Blue and violet wavelengths scatter more than red and orange wavelengths, so the red is more like to reach the moon. Thus, it looks like the Moon is bleeding.

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When and Where Can I See the Blood Moon?

The absolute best viewing points are from Western Asia, across the Middle East, and East Africa. If you are in Australia, Oceania, Europe, and the rest of Africa, you still have a good chance of a great site. North America and Greenland are out of luck this year.

Australia

Not the best timing for us but an early start shouldn’t kill me. If you are specifically after the Red, then make sure you are comfortable looking up around 4.30am AEST on Saturday morning. The total eclipse should occur between 5.30am and 6.30am, with the Moon setting around 6.55am. The Moon is going to be close to the horizon, so look to the West-South-West.

Asia

Those in Central Asia will probably have the best viewing of all. Look up from around 3.30pm and you might be able to catch the Mars Opposition at the same time. For those in India, you should aim for around 11:50pm local time on Friday night.

Middle East

The Middle East should be able to see the whole event in its entirety. That’s 103 minutes to make yourself comfortable. The eclipse should start around 10:24pm local time.

Europe

The days are pretty long in Europe right now. Follow your early dinner with an evening walk to the best vantage point by 8.45pm. With your warm Summer nights, you can probably stretch out on the grass and soak it all in. I’m a little jealous.

Africa

Eastern Africa will have the best viewing across the continent with other regions maybe missing the start. My contacts tell me the eclipse should be completely visible in Eastern Africa from 3.30pm to 5.15pm local time.

South America

Most of South America will only catch the tail-end of the eclipse, after sunset on Friday 27 July. However, don’t be too disappointed because your next big event is a total solar eclipse on 2 July 2019, with totality running through Chile and Argentina. Still, tonight’s event is a nice way to kick off the evening.
Yes, I will most likely be dragging my tired sorry butt out of bed early in the morning to check it out. Due to my sleep deprivation during the last three weeks, I am giving no guarantees for photos. You’ll just have to wait and see.

 

Total Lunar Eclipse: 31 January 2018

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Remember the last Lunar Eclipse visible in Australia? Last year, in 2017, just before the Solar Eclipse that sent everyone in the United States crazy (or at least a little crazier than usual)?

Remember how it was at 3am?

There was nothing partial about my dislike for waking up at that ridiculous hour. *ugh*

Clearly, someone heard my complaint and has acted accordingly: Australia is being graced with a Full Lunar Eclipse next Wednesday, 31 January 2018, starting at the far more respectable time of 9.30pm (Sydney time… Because that’s where I am and that’s all that matters).

So What Is a Lunar Eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth and into its shadow. The Moon does not have its own light source; that big pizza pie in the sky is reflecting light from the Sun on to the Earth. So when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned, it means the Moon will pass into the shadow of the Earth. This also means a lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon. Waxing and Waning Moons occur due to the odd-angle the Moon sits relative to the Earth and the Sun.

explanation of solar lunar eclipse diagram

Image based on explanation from EG Nefarious

Some cultures used to refer to a total lunar eclipse as a blood moon. When the direct sunlight is completely blocked, the only other light seen is refracted through Earth’s shadow. This light looks red because of the ‘rayleigh scattering‘ – that’s the scattering of light by particles. XKCD explains it much better than I could.

Not to be mistaken with a ‘blood moon’ from Zelda: Breath of the Wild, resulting in the resurrection of thousands of Trump-ettes, eagerly waiting to return to their attacks of ignorance and hate.

 

Where Can I See the Lunar Eclipse?

The good news about Lunar Eclipses is they tend to be visible by larger sections of the planet than Solar Eclipses. On 31 January 2018, the lunar eclipse should be visible partially throughout the US, Canada, Central America, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe. For the full-blown total lunar eclipse, pull up a seat in Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, and East Asia. Check your local visibility times through any number of websites; I like Time and Date because they have neat visuals.

 

Is This the Same As a Solar Eclipse?

No, more like the complete opposite. The solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, plunging the world into darkness!! Well, again… an exaggeration but the effect is far more dramatic. You won’t need special glasses for a lunar eclipse; it is totally safe to see—so long as you’re not driving a car, or lying down in the middle of a road, or similar activities. A solar eclipse is also a lot shorter than a lunar eclipse and limited to a smaller viewing area of the world. I also talked about eclipses around the Solar Eclipse of 2017.

 

So, if the spawnlings are still wired and awake at 9.45pm next Wednesday due to the first week back at school, you may want to consider checking the start of the lunar eclipse. Of course, now that it is at a decent hour, if I’m not on the social media you will find me asleep on the couch.

 

Astrofest 2017


Well, this is highly unusual. We have an awesome astrophysics event booked for Sydney this weekend, and an AMAZING weather forecast!! 

Of course, I’ve probably jinxed us all now. But let’s note it for prosperity or historic reference or something: on this day, we all held great hope for Sydney Astrofest 2017.

If you’re looking for stars this weekend, why not enjoy it with some truly evil genius minds in the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO). They’re hosting Sydney Astrofest 2017 at the University of Sydney this Saturday, 1 July 2017.

It’s free. It’s family friendly. It’s educational. And it’s outside (dress warmly – it’s a max of 14C predicted for the day). 

There’s going to be:

  • Night-sky scope viewing
  • Astro talks
  • Planetarium shows
  • Interactive activities and demonstrations

If you have any spawnlings with a burning desire for everything extra-terrestrial, this is worth checking out. And if you’re not based in Sydney, then I’ll try to share some live coverage on the night – just to rub it in.


Check out the website for more details. 

Venue: Charles Perkins Centre and the Veterinary Conference Centre, The University of Sydney.

Leave any cars with reflective strips at home. Far away from the event. Far FAR away.

Date: Saturday, 1 July 2017

Time: 4pm to 9pm
See you there!!
PS> not a sponsored post. Just sharing the spacey love 😜

I have the Power!! DIY Solar Eclipse Viewer

partial solar eclipse

In years gone by (a looooong time ago, minions), people believed that evil things happened during eclipses.

The Vikings believed their Sky Wolves were chasing the Sun and the Moon, sometimes even catching them. The delicious snack was an eclipse. Apparently.

In Vietnam, it’s a very hungry frog out for the chase. And the only way to bring back the celestial body is to make LOTS OF NOISE!! Bang on those pots! Scream your head off!! Slam that door!! Hmm, Zaltu’s already on top of that.

Of course, the more scientifically minded understand what’s happening. With a Lunar Eclipse, the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. With a Solar Eclipse, the Moon is the go-between, casting a shadow on the Earth plunging it into darkness and mayhem, allowing evil to reign once more!!

Or so they say.

Partial Solar Eclipse 2014

Since there is only a partial solar eclipse in Australia and Antarctica today, I guess that means there will only be a little Evil unleashed on the world? Quasi-evil perhaps?

For those in Australia interested in watching, prepare yourselves for the Second Coming (or thirty-third – I’ve lost count). Do NOT look at the Sun. It’s only a partial eclipse and will blind you by forever burning the image of EG Dad’s bulging pecs into your retina (yes, there are worse ways to go, but imagine the torment of forever seeing his pecs and not being able to touch them – well, shut up and think up your own torment!).

There is a safe way to view – a pin-hole camera.

RELEASE THE SCIENCE!

DIY Solar Eclipse Cardboard Viewer

Get two pieces of cardboard (flaps from a box, backs of paper tablets).

With a pin or pencil point, poke a small hole in the center of one piece (no bigger than the pin or pencil point).

Take both pieces in your hand and stand with your back to the sun.
In one hand, hold the piece with the pinhole; place the other piece (the screen) behind it.

The sunlight will pass through the pinhole and form an image on the screen.
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Adjust the distance between the two pieces to focus and change the size of the image. You can even place the viewing-screen piece on the ground and adjust accordingly.

Solar eclipse viewer

This is our view box – clouds were added bonus


What time should you venture out for such dark magic? It’s supposed to happen between 4pm and 6pm. It should start around 4.15pm in Sydney – adjust your time zone accordingly. Or just listen out for Zaltu’s rendition of Return of Sol.

And remember – do not look directly at the Sun. EG Dad pecs and stuff.