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Some fantastic shots by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Rockport, Massachusetts, that show the deep penumbral eclipse of March 14, 2006.

Don’t miss tonight’s penumbral lunar eclipse

Some fantastic shots by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Rockport, Massachusetts, that show the deep penumbral eclipse of March 14, 2006.

Some fantastic shots by Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre from Rockport, Massachusetts, that show the deep penumbral eclipse of March 14, 2006.


Tonight’s the last chance, for some of you, to experience an eclipse in 2012, and moreover a special kind of eclipse for that matter – a penumbral lunar eclipse. The event will start at 4:14 a.m. PST and end at 8:51 a.m. PST, according to timeanddate.com , and should be visible in East Asia, Australia, Hawaii and Alaska, with possible views at moonset and moonrise for the western United States and parts of Europe and Africa.

Don’t worry if you’re not in the view zone or are experiencing cloudy weather, since space.com has a live webcast up and running. Not the real thing, I know, but at least it’s something.

During a penumbral lunar eclipse the moon falls under the fainter edge of Earth’s shadow, and as such its light is cast from the penumbra, instead of the usual umbra. As such, the moon will glow somewhat dimmer in the night sky, instead of well defined disk we’re all accustomed to during a regular lunar eclipse.

And don’t worry. If you haven’t heard already, neither a penumbral lunar eclipse or the regular lunar eclipse won’t drive you insane.

Be aware that the start and end of a penumbral lunar eclipse isn’t visible with the naked eye, meaning that only  two-thirds into the Earth’s penumbra will you be able to experience the phenomenon.


Taking a bite out of the Moon: partial lunar eclipse visible in the Pacific

Along the US west coast and in Asia after sunset, people were lucky to see the ‘strawberry full moon’ – the first partial lunar eclipse in over a year.

It has been less than a couple of weeks since the ring of fire solar eclipse which delighted people throughout the Americas and Asia, and already we’re having a lunar eclipse; this is no coincidence – solar eclipses are always accompanied by partial lunar eclipses, less than two weeks before or after the phenomena.

As you can see, the Earth got in the way between the Sun and the Moon, casting a clear shadow over the lower part of the satellite. In solar eclipses, it’s the moon that gets between the Sun and the Earth.

A Geminid meteor streaks over Monument Valley, Utah, in 2007. (c) Wally Pacholka, TWAN

Catch the Geminid meteor shower at its peak TONIGHT!

A Geminid meteor streaks over Monument Valley, Utah, in 2007. (c) Wally Pacholka, TWAN

A Geminid meteor streaks over Monument Valley, Utah, in 2007. (c) Wally Pacholka, TWAN

Heralded by NASA as the best meteor shower of the year, the annual Geminid skyline spectacle is set to peak tonight, part of a show that shouldn’t be missed. Passionate night gazers, however, will have to battle low temperatures and a bright sky, lit by the passing full moon.

The  Geminids are expected to streak across the skies between Dec. 12 and 16, the most spectacular view occurring tonight, Dec. 13, when the meteor shower will be at its peak. As such, today between  80 and 120 shooting stars per hour will be seen in the night sky, although scientists warn that the moon’s  bright aura, left over from the recent total lunar eclipse, will obstruct much of the view, rendering many of the falling stars invisible.

“This year, folks will get a nice double whammy with the lunar eclipse on the 10th, and then the Geminid peak on the night of the 13th, but it would be nice if we could just turn off the moon after the eclipse,” Bill Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environments Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsvilla, Ala..

The Geminid meteor shower takes place during the middle of December each year, as a result of debris flybys from an object called 3200 Phaetheon, which has an asteroid-like orbit and has been passing near the Earth since 1830s.  Back then peak intensity was of about  20 meteors per hour, compared to 120 meteors per hour today.

The Quadrantids will be the next major meteor shower; skywatchers can expect these to peak on the night of Jan. 3, 2012.

Note to ZME Science readers: if you happen to catch a photo of the Geminid shower, please consider sharing it with us and, as such, with the other ZME readers by e-mailing it to andrei@zmescience.com. Thank you!

The Dec. 10 total eclipse over the San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. (c) John Harrison Photography

2011’s last total lunar eclipse

This Saturday, not even the early hours of dawn, nor the chilly, foggy weather discouraged passionate viewers to witness one of the most dazzling sights of the year – a total lunar eclipse which cast much of southern hemisphere in a shroud of delight. It was the last of the year, and in quite a while at the same time – the next similar event will be in 2014.

Photo by Lior Kaplan.

This weekend’s eclipse lasted around 50 minutes, about half the duration of 2011’s other total eclipse, which occurred on June 15th. Although its effect was a bit brief, this weekend’s show more than compensated in looks, as it was much brighter than the previous one. Moreover, to the night watcher’s delight, the whole moon took a pale red glow from sunlight scattering through a thin layer of the earth’s atmosphere.





Total Lunar Eclipse

Don’t miss the last total eclipse of the year on 12/10

Total Lunar Eclipse Lunar eclipses are one of the most dazzling sights you’ll ever have the chance of experiencing, though unfortunately they are rather rare events. Next week, on December 10, North American western residents will be able to experience the rare beauty of a total lunar eclipse – for some just a one in a lifetime opportunity.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, moon, and sun are almost perfectly aligned, such that the Earth blocks the Sun’s rays from striking the moon. A total lunar eclipse can be observed when the Moon travels completely into the Earth’s umbra. The last total lunar eclipse occurred on June 15, when it lasted 100 minutes, visible over Europe and South America after sunset, over Africa and most of Asia, and Australia before sunrise.

The next one, and the last eclipse of the year, should be visible in parts of North America, excluding the eastern region and Hawaii, as well as be seen in some parts of Asia, eastern Africa, and eastern Europe. The action begins around 4:45 a.m. Pacific Standard Time when the red shadow of Earth first falls across the lunar disk; by 6:05 a.m. Pacific Time, the Moon will be fully engulfed in red light.

Moreover, this particular total eclipse will come with a unique red aura, since in some parts it will be timed with the moon sinking into the horizon as the sun rises, which will also make it look bigger. For some reason or the other, when the moon is really close to the horizon and it beams through foreground objects, the illusion of larger dimensions are  perceived by humans, although digital camera measurements have shown that its exactly the same.

So, if you’re around the total eclipse front, don’t get discouraged by the early hours and stay up or wake up early for this extremely rare event. You have a few days in advance, so be sure to start looking for a great place to watch it.

2011’s last solar eclipse preparing for those in the Southern hemisphere

Well 2011 is nearing its end, and the last solar eclipse of the year will put on quite a show for some people in the Southern hemisphere on Friday (Nov 25), but American shouldn’t bother raising their eyes from the Thanksgiving plates.

According to NASA, the partial solar eclipse will only be visible to people from South Africa, Antarctica, Tasmania and most of New Zealand.

Solar eclipses occur during new moon, when the moon gets in between our planet and the sun; if the satellite casts a shadow on Earth, this is what we call a solar eclipse. Analogue, lunar eclipses occur when the Earth casts a shadow on the moon. The next lunar eclipse is still a couple of weeks away, on the 10th of December.

Each year, there are between two and five partial or total solar eclipses visible from our planet, and in 2012, astronomers predict only two. The first one of them is estimated on 22 May, and a lot of people from the Northern hemisphere will get a chance to see it.

Picture source

Geminids to offer another thrilling night for stargazers

The strangest meteor shower one can observe every year is almost upon us. Geminids is the only meteor shower that isn’t caused by a passing comet, but rather by an asteroid; the meteors are slow moving and pretty bright, making them a perfect target not only for astronomy afficionados, but for everybody who want’s to see a stellar show.

From this point of view, December is indeed a great month – not only can you see Geminids under weather conditions that promise to be good, but you can also witness the only full moon eclipse of the year. The night of December 13 is probably the best one for watching the ‘shooting stars’ (it’s estimated that then the intensity will be at maximum levels) and it promises to be quite a remarkable show, but you should definitely dress way more warmly than usual, and grab a blanket or two. The good thing is that the meteor shower will be so close that no binoculars or telescopes are necessary, but since it will last for a while, perhaps another good idea would be to grab a lawn chair or a sleeping bag (or a girlfriend) – something to keep you comfortable and warm for the 72 minutes when you will be enjoying the show in the sky.

Also, on the night of 20 (and/or 21, depends where you live) is a great one, and if you live in North America, you can go out and see the best lunar eclipse until April 2014. I will get back to you with more details a few days before the eclipse, but for now, you really should prepare for a dazzling display offered by the Geminids.

Photo credits 1 2

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.


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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