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The longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years is happening tonight

An almost total lunar eclipse is expected overnight this Thursday, November 18th, to Friday, November 19th. It will last almost three hours and 30 minutes, making it the longest in centuries. About 97% of the moon will vanish into Earth’s shadow – visible in many parts of the world, including North and South America and eastern Australia.

Lunar eclipses happen when the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun align so that the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow. There are three types – total, partial and penumbral. In a total eclipse, which is the most dramatic, Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, covers up to 99.1% of the Moon’s disk. We’ll be very close to seeing that this night. 

During the eclipse, the moon should have a reddish-brown color as it slips into the shadow, a phenomenon called Rayleigh scattering — the same mechanism which makes sunsets look red and the sky look blue. The Moon’s level of red will depend on the dust or clouds in the atmosphere of Earth during the eclipse.

“Partial lunar eclipses might not be quite as spectacular as total lunar eclipses — where the moon is completely covered in Earth’s shadow – but they occur more frequently,” NASA said in a skywatching update. “And that just means more opportunities to witness little changes in our solar system that sometimes occur right before our eyes.”

A remarkable experience

The eclipse will be visible in several parts of the world across the evening of Thursday and into early Friday. The exact time will depend on each location, with a few websites around in which you can get your exact times. But it will likely be a long night. For example, in New Mexico, it will start at 12.18am and reach its maximum at 2.02am. 

A world map showing where the eclipse is visible at the time of greatest eclipse. Earlier parts of the eclipse are visible farther east, while later times are visible farther west. Image credit: NASA.

In case you don’t want to stay up late or watch the eclipse in person, there are also online options. The Virtual Telescope Project (VTP) is doing a special broadcast of the eclipse starting at 11 pm PT on Thursday. VTP also partnered up with astronomers from around the world and will offer a live commentary from astrophysicist Gianluca Masi. 

The last time a lunar eclipse took place was on May 26, 2021, named the “super flower blood moon.” It was a total eclipse, the first one since 2019, and it was visible in its entirety over Oceania and the Pacific Ocean. Those in southern and eastern Asia could see it at moonrise, while those in North and South western America saw it at moonset. 

Eclipses have caused inspiration but also fear across history, especially when the moon turns blood-red, as earlier in May this year. They don’t happen a lot and aren’t always visible. But they are a remarkable experience worth watching, allowing us to admire how the Sun, the Earth and the Moon are all connected as part of the solar system. 

Amateur astronomer discovered a new sungrazing comet during last week’s eclipse

An amateur astronomer discovered a new sungrazer comet during last week’s solar eclipse, NASA reports. The body has been christened C/2020 X3 (SOHO).

Comet C/2020 X3 (SOHO) in the bottom left-hand corner with a composite image of the total eclipse (right).
Image credits: ESA/NASA/SOHO.

Sungrazing comets are like their brethren in every way except they pass very close to the Sun, sometimes within a few thousand kilometers of its surface. C/2020 X3 (SOHO) has been discovered by Worachate Boonplod on December 13 (a day before the eclipse) as part of the Sungrazer Project — a citizen science project which allows the public to look for comets in images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

New old comet

The sungrazer belongs to the Kreutz family of objects, NASA explains, which are the fragments of a larger comet that broke apart around one millennia ago. C/2020 X3 (SOHO) evaporated on approach towards the Sun, but other grazers still orbit around our star, the agency adds.

During its last moments, the comet was traveling at around 450,000 miles per hour, reaching as close as 2.7 million miles from the star’s surface. It was about 50 feet (15 meters) in diameter and disintegrated into dust on approach.

“But wait!”, you might say — “what eclipse?”. Last week saw the last eclipse of 2020, which was visible from a relatively narrow region in the Pacific, southern South America, and Antarctica. People in Chile, Argentina, and communities living in the southern Atlantic and Pacific oceans could see it as a total eclipse.

This is the 3,524th Kreutz sungrazer spotted by SOHO. None have yet been seen to actually hit the star, as they burn away in the lower corona (the Sun’s atmosphere) or pass around 31,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) away from its surface. SOHO works similarly to a solar eclipse, NASA adds, which is why it’s so good at spotting sungrazers. The telescope uses a solid disk to block out light coming in directly from the Sun, letting us analyze its dimmer atmosphere and close-by objects.

A brief flash of light was recorded during the January 20 total lunar eclipse. It was produced by an impact with a 15-meter-wide meteoroid. Credit: J. M. Madiedo et al., 2019.

Astronomers record first lunar eclipse meteoroid impact

A brief flash of light was recorded during the January 20 total lunar eclipse. It was produced by an impact with a 15-meter-wide meteoroid. Credit: J. M. Madiedo et al., 2019.

A brief flash of light was recorded during the January 20 total lunar eclipse. It was produced by an impact with a 15-meter-wide meteoroid. Credit: J. M. Madiedo et al., 2019.

During a total lunar eclipse this past January, astronomers recorded the moment a small meteorite collided with the moon’s surface. This unique observation has now provided scientists with unprecedented information about what happens when cosmic objects impact the moon.

The blood moon impact

Earth’s atmosphere acts like a giant shield that shelters us not only from ultraviolet radiation that would otherwise roast our DNA but also destroys hunks of rock hurtling toward us. Although the moon has an atmosphere, technically called an exosphere, it’s so thin that gas molecules rarely collide with each other — and meteoroids pass through it like a hot knife through butter. The moon’s surface, which is dotted with countless craters, is a testament to what Earth could have looked like if we weren’t this privileged.

In the 1990s, researchers launched the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) project that uses three astronomical observatories located in Spain: Sevilla, La Hita and La Sagra. By means of these telescopes and high-sensitivity CCD video cameras, researchers record the impact flashes of meteoroids on the moon in order to monitor the flux of interplanetary matter that impacts not only the moon but also our planet.

When meteoroids impact the moon they are completely destroyed but these collisions give rise to brief flashes that can be recorded. In a recent study, researchers at the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia in Spain performed an unprecedented observation of a lunar meteoroid: the first time that an impact flash is recorded during a lunar eclipse. The observation also marks the first time that a lunar impact flash was recorded in two wavelengths, which helped produce a higher-fidelity image of the impact.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in syzygy), with Earth between the other two. Due to its reddish color, a totally eclipsed Moon is sometimes called a blood moon.

Global view and a closer view of the meteoroid impact on the Moon observed and filmed during the January 21st, 2019 Moon eclipse. Credit: MIDAS Survey

According to the new study, the impact recorded by MIDAS lasted only 0.28 seconds. The 30- to 60-cm-wide meteoroid weighed about 45 kilograms and impacted the moon at 61,000 km/hr, generating a 15-meter-across crater. The debris spewed by the collision was heated to 5,400 degrees Celsius, which is comparable to the surface of the sun. The video below shows the exact moment when the impact occurred.

Reproducing these sorts of collisions in the lab is impossible which is why observations such as those performed by MIDAS are so important to science. And in the future, if humans ever colonize the moon, this sort of study will help us plan for the safety of the settlers.

The findings were reported in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Blood Moon.

What causes Blood Moons? The same thing that makes skies blue

When the Moon turns bloody, it’s Earth at work.

Blood Moon.

Image via Pixabay.

Humanity has always kept an eye on the heavens. Societies lived and died by natural cycles, and these orbs in the sky seemed to dictate the rhythm of life — so they imposed themselves as central players in our mythoi. The imprint they left on our psyche is so deep that to this day, we still name heavenly bodies after gods.

But two players always commanded center stage: the Sun and the Moon. One interaction between the two is so particularly striking that virtually all cultures regarded it as a sign of great upheaval: the blood moon. Its perceived meaning ranges from the benign to the malevolent. Blood moons drip with cultural significance, and we’ll explore some of it because I’m a huge anthropology nerd.

But they’re also very interesting events from a scientific point of view, and we’ll start with that. What, exactly, turns the heavenly wheel of cheese into a bloody pool? Well, let me whet your appetite by saying that it’s the same process which produces clear blue skies. Ready? Ok, let’s go.

The background

Geometry of a lunar eclipse.

The geometry of a lunar eclipse.
Image credits Sagredo / Wikimedia.

For context’s sake, let’s start by establishing that the moon doesn’t shine by itself. It’s visible because it acts as a huge mirror, beaming reflected sunlight down at night. During a total lunar eclipse, the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, blocking sunlight from hitting its surface. Blood moons happen during such lunar eclipses. A sliver of light is refracted (bent) in the atmosphere, passing around the Earth and illuminating the Moon. This is what gives it that reddish colo

It all comes down to how light interacts with our planet’s atmosphere, most notably a process called Rayleigh scattering: electromagnetic radiation interacts with physical particles much smaller in size than the radiation’s wavelength.

For context’s sake part deux, what our eyes perceive as white light is actually a mix of all the colors we can see. Each color is generated by a particular wavelength interval (more here).

Boiled down, different bits of light get more or less scattered depending on their wavelength. It’s quite potent: roughly a quarter of the light incoming from the Sun gets scattered — depending on fluctuating atmospheric properties such amount of particles floating around in it — and some two-thirds of this light reaches the surface as diffuse sky radiation.

The Blood Moon

As a rule of thumb, our atmosphere is better at scattering short wavelengths (violets and blues) than long wavelengths (oranges and reds). ‘Scattering’ basically means ‘spreading around’, and this makes the sky look blue for most of the day. This scattering is not dependent on direction (or, in fancy-science-speak, it’s an isotropic property) but its perceived effect is.

When the sun is high in the sky, light falls roughly vertically on our planet; as such, it passes through a relatively short span of the atmosphere. Let’s denote this rough length with ‘a‘.

The light of dawn and dusk arrives tangentially (horizontally) to the planet. It thus has to pass through a much longer span of the atmosphere than it does at noon. Blues become scattered just like in the previous case as light traverses this a distance through the atmosphere. But it then has to pass through yet more air. So greens (the next-shortest wavelengths) also become dispersed. That’s why the sky on dawn or sunsets appear red or yellow (the remaining wavelengths).

Blood Moon.

The same mechanism is at work during a blood moon. Light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere gets depleted in short wavelengths, making it look yellowy-red. This makes the Moon appear red as it reflects red light back to our eyes.

One cool effect of this dispersion is that blood moons sometimes exhibit a blue-turquoise band of color at the beginning and just before the end of the eclipse. This is produced by the light that passes through the ozone layer in the top-most atmosphere. Ozone scatters primarily red light, leaving blues mostly intact.

Cultural meanings

Many ancient civilizations looked upon the blood moon with concern: in their eyes, this was an omen that evil was stirring.

“The ancient Inca people interpreted the deep red colouring as a jaguar attacking and eating the moon,” Daniel Brown wrote for The Conversation. “They believed that the jaguar might then turn its attention to Earth, so the people would shout, shake their spears and make their dogs bark and howl, hoping to make enough noise to drive the jaguar away.”

Some Hindu traditions hold that the Moon turns red because of an epic clash between deities. The demon Swarbhanu tricks the Sun and Moon for a sip of the elixir of immortality. As punishment Vishnu (the primary god of Hinduism) cuts off the demon’s head — which lives on as Rahu.

Understandably upset by the whole experience, Rahu chases the sun and moon to devour them. An eclipse only happens if Rahu manages to catch one of the two. Blood Moons form when Rahu swallows the moon and it falls out of his severed neck. Several things, such as eating or worshiping, are prohibited, as Hindu traditions hold that evil entities are about during an eclipse.

Other cultures took a more compassionate view of the eclipsed moon. The Native American Hupa and Luiseño tribes from California, Brown explains, thought it was wounded or fell ill during such an event. In order to help its wives in healing the darkened moon, the Luiseño would sing and chant healing songs under an open sky.

My personal favorite, however, is the approach of the Batammaliba people, who live in the nations of Togo and Benin in Africa. Their traditions hold that the lunar eclipse is a conflict between sun and moon; we little people must encourage them to bury the hatchet! Such events are thus seen as an opportunity to lay old animosities and feuds to rest;

I’m definitely going to try that during the next blood moon.

Honeybee

Bees completely stopped flying during the 2017 total solar eclipse

Honeybee

Credit: Pixabay.

Last year’s total solar eclipse was all the rage around the continental United States. For honeybees, however, the whole experience was rather confusing. A citizen science project that included both researchers and elementary-schoolers, monitored bees during the eerie moments when the moon blocked the sun. The study found that it wasn’t just Americans who took a break, but also the bees, who stopped foraging and just idled around.

Who took the lights out?

The study’s authors, which included more than 400 participants, set up 16 monitoring stations across Oregon, Idaho, and Missouri, on the path of totality during the 2017 eclipse. Each station was fitted with microphones shielded by windscreens in order to minimize noise. Suspended from lanyards, the microphones recorded the buzz of bees as they zig-zagged from lower to flower. The researchers also recorded data on light and temperature.

Before and after the eclipse, the bees were active in phases. However, during the totality itself, the bees completely stopped flying.

“We anticipated, based on the smattering of reports in the literature, that bee activity would drop as light dimmed during the eclipse and would reach a minimum at totality,” said Candace Galen, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri and lead researcher on the study. “But, we had not expected that the change would be so abrupt, that bees would continue flying up until totality and only then stop, completely. It was like ‘lights out’ at summer camp! That surprised us.”

Since the bees tended to fly for a longer duration immediately before and after the totality, the authors of the new study suspect that the sudden darkness may have coaxed the insects to return to their nests. Usually, at night, bees return to their nests and fly more slowly. Just one buzz was recorded during totality in all of the 16 monitoring locations.

Alternatively, the eclipse may have caused the bees to reduce flight speed — so that they might not bump into things or each other.

The researchers could not differentiate between bee species from the recordings alone but observations suggest that the monitored bees were bumblebees (genus Bombus) or honey bees (Apis mellifera).

Scientists have known for a while that animals behave differently, sometimes bizarrely, during eclipses. For instance, orb-weaving spiders destroy their webs during an eclipse.

“The eclipse gave us an opportunity to ask whether the novel environmental context–mid-day, open skies–would alter the bees’ behavioral response to dim light and darkness. As we found, complete darkness elicits the same behavior in bees, regardless of timing or context. And that’s new information about bee cognition,” Galen says.

The next solar eclipse will take place on April 8, 2024. This time, Galen and researchers plan on monitoring bees again to see whether the insects actually head home when the lights go off.

“The total solar eclipse was a complete crowd-pleaser, and it was great fun to hitch bee research to its tidal wave of enthusiasm,” Galen says.

The findings were published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America.

A supermoon, a blue moon, and a total lunar eclipse will coincide on the 31st of January. It’s the first time in 152 years

An extremely rare celestial coincidence is sending us over the moon. The January 31st supermoon will feature a total lunar eclipse, as well as a blue moon — and this almost never happens.

A lunar trilogy

The 2011 supermoon as it is seen rising near the Lincoln Memorial. Image Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

A Supermoon is a Moon that is full when it is also at or near its closest point in its orbit around Earth. Basically, the moon is closer to the Earth which to us, seems like it’s getting bigger. It can be hard to see the change with our own eyes, but the odds are you’re going to see it larger and clearer than usual.

“The supermoons are a great opportunity for people to start looking at the Moon, not just that once but every chance they have!” says Noah Petro, a research scientist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Since this supermoon will be the second full moon of the month, it also earns the title of a blue moon. But without a doubt, the cherry on the cake is the lunar eclipse. With a totality visible from western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia, the eclipse will still be partially visible from other parts of the world. Here’s an interactive map of where you can see the eclipse and in what stage.

If you can’t watch it for some reason or another, rest assured — the Virtual Telescope project provides a live stream of the supermoon’s eclipse over Rome’s skyline.

“The lunar eclipse on January 31 will be visible during moonset. Folks in the Eastern United States, where the eclipse will be partial, will have to get up in the morning to see it,” notes Petro. “But it’s another great chance to watch the Moon.”

A screenshot from the interactive map.

The best time to see the supermoon is usually around moonrise. You can check your local moonrise time on this calendar. Meanwhile, the lunar eclipse will begin at 6:48am ET (11:48am UTC) and reach its maximum at 8:30am ET (1:30pm UTC). It could turn out to be a long night.

By your powers combined

It’s a rare event to have all these three events happen at the same time. The last time it happened was 152 years ago so if you do manage to spot it, make sure to take a photo or two. Bill Ingalls, NASA’s senior photographer and a fixture at NASA Headquarters has loads of good advice on how to shoot the event with a camera. If all you’ve got is a phone, you can still snap really good images. Be sure to set the focus exactly on the moon and increase the exposure slider to get the right balance.

Unlike the solar eclipse, the lunar eclipse isn’t dangerous to look at. You can look at it directly, without any glasses, without any worry whatsoever — except perhaps for a stiff neck.

Experience The Various Stages Of The Great American Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely covers the Sun’s disk, as seen in this 1999 solar eclipse. Image credits: Luc Viatour / Wikipedia.

Scientists who specialize in the field of astronomy say a total solar eclipse happens when the moon positions itself in such a way that it obstructs a portion of the sun’s rays from reaching the earth. People living in North America will witness such an event on the 21st August 2017, for a duration of two minutes and forty seconds. During the period, individuals residing within a path of 70 miles from Oregon, in the northwestern region of the country to South Carolina will notice that the moon completely shuts off the bright face of the sun. They will only see its outer atmosphere or solar corona along with some stars and other planets.

These experts advise people not to look at the sun directly during this astronomical event, except for a short phase, which they refer to as “totality.” This will occur when the moon completely blocks the bright face of the sun. They also recommend that individuals who intend to watch this occurrence should wear special-purpose eclipse glasses to safeguard their eyes from any damage. In addition to this, they suggest viewers should keep in mind the following tips while watching this spectacular phenomenon that will again take place in 2024:

Stage #1

During the Great American Solar Eclipse — the term scientists use to call this astronomical event — a moment will occur when the moon positions itself between the sun and planet Earth. In the course of this phase, people will glimpse several bright points shining on the edges of the moon. It is essential for these individuals to wear their eclipse glasses while viewing this event if they intend to protect their eyes.

Stage #2

Next, the moon positions itself in such a way that these bright lights start to diminish until people can see only one bright beam of light on its outer edges. Even during this phase, it is not safe for these individuals to take off their protective eyewear which witnessing this occurrence. The internet is riddled with places where you can get more information about this amazing phenomenon, so there’s no excuse to do silly things!

Stage #3

Solar eclipse on May 20, 2012. Taken from Red Bluff, California. Image credits: Brocken Inaglory.

During this solar eclipse, a phase will come when this bright beam of starts to fade, and people on earth can no longer see the rays of the sun coming towards them. At this moment, they can see this occurrence without having to wear their protective glasses.

Stage #4

Scientists explain that it is important for people to wear their special-purpose eclipse glasses again when witnessing the final stage of this amazing astronomical event. This is because this phase is nothing but a recreation of the beginning.

Scientists go on to explain that an individual seeing the occurrence of a solar eclipse with his/her naked eyescan result in severe damage to the retina. In the worst-case scenario, this can lead to total blindness. However, with the aid of special-purpose eclipse glasses, it is possible to people to witness one of the nature’s most spectacular astronomical occurrences, which they will remember for the rest of their lives.

This is a guest contribution from Mandy Bular. Mandy is a space enthusiast and avid blog writer who is closely following the Great American solar eclipse and posted many articles related to the same on various websites.

NASA Solar Observatory sees double eclipse from outer space

It’s not the same as a solar eclipse seen from Earth, but it’s still amazing.

You can tell Earth and the moon’s shadows apart by their edges: Earth’s is fuzzy, while the moon’s is sharp and distinct. This is because Earth’s atmosphere absorbs some of the sun’s light, while the Moon has no atmosphere and produces a crisp horizon.
Credits: NASA/SDO

Twice a year, the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is in ‘eclipse season.’ Around that time, the observatory’s view of the sun is blocked once a day by the Earth. Sometimes, on rare occasions, both the Moon and the Earth pass between the SDO and the Sun, creating a double eclipse.

It looks even better if you know how to look at it. For example, you can tell the Earth and the moon’s shadows apart by their edges: Earth’s is fuzzy, because the atmosphere absorbs some of the light and creates an irregular shape, while the moon has virtually no atmosphere and produces a very crisp horizon.

NASA’s press release reads:

“This particular geometry of Earth, the moon and the sun had effects on viewing down on the ground as well: It resulted in a simultaneous eclipse visible from southern Africa. The eclipse was what’s known as a ring of fire, or annular, eclipse, which is similar to a total solar eclipse, except it happens when the moon is at a point in its orbit farther from Earth than average. The increased distance causes the moon’s apparent size to be smaller, so it doesn’t block the entire face of the sun. This leaves a bright, narrow ring of the solar surface visible, looking much like a ring of fire.”

This is a video with additional explanations:

AstroPicture of the Day: An Eclipse at the End of the World

A total solar eclipse took place on November 23, 2003; the Moon elegantly set itself in between the Sun and the Earth, but this was only visible from the Antarctic region. But that didn’t stop an enthusiastic group of photographers who went on to take some stunning pictures, including the one you see above.

The image, pictured as an APOD, represents a composite of four separate images digitally combined to realistically simulate how the adaptive human eye saw the eclipse. As the image was taken, both the Moon and the Sun peeked together over an Antarctic ridge. In the sudden darkness, the magnificent corona of the Sun became visible around the Moon. Quite by accident, another photographer was caught in one of the images checking his video camera. Visible to his left are an equipment bag and a collapsible chair.

You can read more about this eclipse and see more pictures on this webpage.

Rare, spectacular views of solar eclipse as seen from space

NASA space observatory sends back a couple of mind blowing eye dazzling images of the Sun. I guess I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I’m really loving these pics.

eclipse1

The people working at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) had another of their periodic “wow” moments when the latest transmissions from space turned up a couple of unique images of the sun in eclipse. The first shot, transmitted earlier this morning between 2:15 to 3:45 ET, captured the sun partially blocked from view by the Earth. Five hours later, they took this other pic.

eclipse 2

Good news! This is going to be a regular thing for the next three weeks, as Earth blocks the craft’s view of the sun for a period of time each day, so we’re probably gonna be treated with more such stunning images in the near future – so be sure not to miss out on them.

Australia treated to wonderful solar eclipse

A rare, total, solar eclipse sent Queensland into darkness for two minutes early on Wednesday, creating a wonderful show for the people who gathered to watch it.

It was an eerie feeling to see the morning light fade into darkness, but it wasn’t the same for everybody. In some places, where the eclipse wasn’t full, even though the Sun was almost entirely covered, daylight still ruled. Many places weren’t so fortunate, as the cloud cover was extremely thick and significantly obstructed vision.

The last full solar eclipse visible from Australia was in 2002 and the next one will be in 2028.

For all our Southern Hemisphere readers: enjoy the solar eclipse!

In case you didn’t know, a total solar eclipse is going to take place on the 13th of November (today or tomorrow, depending on there you are).

The eclipse will be total from Northern Australia to the small Chilean Juan Fernández Islands infront of the southern Pacific Ocean coast where totality will end. However, it will be a partial solar eclipse for almost everybody from the Southern Hemisphere. Auckland will have 87.0% of the sun obscured, whereas Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin will respectively have 76.4%, 68.9% and 61.5% of the sun obscured.

We hope you’ll enjoy it, and if you happen to take any pictures, be sure to send it to us and we’ll publish them right away!

Incredible picture of the red Moon during the eclipse (with explanation)

Photo by NASA.

I sure hope everybody knows what an eclipse is and there’s no need to pass through that again; if not, here’s the wikipedia article about eclipse. What I’m more interested in telling you about is why the Moon tends to get this delicious reddish hue during some eclipses – as observed in this fascinating picture.

The matter can be understood quite easily, if you think as the matter as being on the Moon. If you’re on the Moon during an eclipse, then the Sun would appear to be setting behind the Earth. As you’ve probably seen, during sunlight or sunset, the sky sometimes gets filled with these reddish colours as well, and the reason is quite similar.

The red coloring appears because sunlight that reaches the Moon must pass through a long and dense layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, where it is scattered. Shorter wavelengths are more likely to be scattered and so the longer wavelengths dominate, and the resulting colour is red.

Science capitalizes on extended solar eclipse

solareclipse2009jul22-sScientists from the observatory near Hangzhou joined tourists and locals in observing the longest eclipse of the century, and possibly the longest one since the dawn of civilization. People all over China and India (and not only) watched in awe for 5 minutes and 36 seconds as the moon’s shadow covered their countries.

“We saw it! The clouds kept getting thinner, and we even had a pretty good-sized hole in the clouds for the five minutes of totality,” reported Expedition Leader Jay Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams and chair of the International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Solar Eclipses.”

“Everyone saw all the coronal phenomena. The diamond rings were spectacular. Just before totality, the clouds were just the right thickness that allowed us to see partial phases without filters.”

This is even more impressing coming from a man who just witnessed his 49th solar eclipse. He and his colleagues are capturing data from numerous solar eclipses to find out why the sun’s corona shines brighter than the sun itself. The next solar eclipse will be on July 11, 2010, but it will hit only the Cook Islands, Easter Island, and a small section of southern Chile and Argentina.

Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs whenever the Moon passes through some portion of the Earth’s shadow (the moon gets behind the earth or the sun, earth, and then the moon). It doesn’t happen quite often, but not as rare as the solar eclipse. Such an event will take place tonight, charming skywatchers across the United States and much of the world. There will not be another until 2010.

According to NASA, the weather will permit viewing it from most places around the world and pretty much from everywhere in USA. The moon will enter Earth’s umbral shadow (the full shadow) at 8:43 p.m. ET; check here if you’re not sure about your time area. About 78 minutes later, the moon will slip into full eclipse, and after 51 other minutes it will start to emerge.

So what will we see? Well, first you may get a glimpse of a red moon, which happens because of the fact that the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. You’ve probably heard about the famous red moon eclipse Cristofor Columbus used to get away from some natives in Jamaica by frightening them.

Also, according to astronomers, Saturn and the bright star Regulus will form a broad triangle with the moon’s ruddy disk. You don’t need special equipment, just go with some friends, bring some chairs and warm clothes, and some beers. Or somethink else to drink, perhaps something healthier to drink.

Update!!!

The lunar eclipse was just great! I stayed up almost all night to get it, but it was definetly worth the effort. Unfortunately, my camera is not that great so instead here are some pics from BBC.

lunar eclipse

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