Astronomy for beginners – Lunar eclipse

It is appropriate that the Astronomy for beginners blog launches at a time when there is likely to be an increased interest in all things astronomical as a result of a rare event coming around on the calendar.

Rare total eclipse of the moon

Early evening on August 28th 2007 the event will be one of the most spectacular sights in astronomy. For beginners especially, it provides a valuable opportunity to experience an astronomical event with the naked eye, or a good pair of binoculars.

A total lunar eclipse takes place at full moon if the moon passes through some portion of the Earth’s shadow. This will happen on the 28th, visible from last parts of the Earth including the pacific Ocean, large parts of Western United States and Canada, and some of Australasia and East Asia.

The most impressive part for viewers starts as the moon’s leading edge enters the Earth’s shadow. Over the next hour or so, the moon slowly slips into total darkness.

So what’s the difference between a lunar eclipse and just an ordinary night with no moon?

The moon doesn’t go completely black as if it’s not there. It’s in shadow from the direct light from the Sun, because the Earth is positioned right in the way. But this allows the ambient light from other sources, normally too dim to be seen, to shine gently through. So people may see an amazing sight. As the eclipse progresses, the moon’s surface can take on an eerie pink or copper color.

The moon can actually take on a whole range of colors, changing as the phenomenon unfolds. Anything from dark brown and red to bright orange and yellow. The colors are affected by the amout of dust and cloud present in the upper atmosphere, which can never be predicted. This is not just man made pollution we are talking about, but dust from natural weather patterns and residiual effects from volcanic activity.

So if you are living in the path of the lunar eclipse, Astonomy for beginners  wishes you the very best weather opportunity on Tuesday night. There won’t be another one until the year 2010.


~ by andyroberts on August 22, 2007.

3 Responses to “Astronomy for beginners – Lunar eclipse”

  1. Nice first post! I look forward to more.

  2. […] lunar eclipse August 28th 2007 visible where? The total lunar eclipse on August 28th is going to be best seen from anywhere within the Pacific  rim, and visible from […]

  3. […] total lunar eclipse on August 28th is going to be best seen from anywhere within the Pacific rim, and visible from […]

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