Saturday, June 19, 2010

Partial Lunar Eclipse, June 26, 2010

Evening sky looking east as seen from Adelaide at 9:08 pm on Saturday July 26, 2010.

On the evening of Saturday, June 26 there will be a partial eclipse of the Moon. This will be seen through-out Australia, New Zealand, the pacific, south-east Asia and parts of the Americas.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow. Lunar eclipses don’t occur often, and for Australians this is the best eclipse since the total Lunar eclipse of August 2007.

The timing of the eclipse is in the early evening on a Saturday, so this is a great time to get the family involved in watching. With no school the next day, and the darkest part of the eclipse in early evening, this is a great time for the kids to watch. I've made a printable guide for kids with directions (Australia specific), and some activities they can do during the eclipse. Why not host a Moon-B-Q with friends?

If the sky is clear, this will be a beautiful sight, with the bottom half of the Moon going dark. You don’t need anything special to watch the eclipse, just your eyes.

The Moon rises in the east at roughly 4:45 pm on the east coast, 5:45 pm for the central states and 5:10 pm in Western Australia. It will enter the outer part of Earth’s shadow (the prenumbra) after twilight finishes in the eastern and central states. However, this shadow is faint and will not darken the Moon very much.

The Moon enters the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow (the Umbra on the diagram) at 8:16 pm on the east coast, 7:46 pm for the central states and 6:16 pm in Western Australia. For the eastern and central states the sky is fully dark, but in WA the sky is still in late twilight. Nonetheless everyone should be able to see a visible “chip” on the bottom of the Moon.

Over the next hour you will see the shadow slowly creep over the Moons face until more than half the Moon is covered by the shadow of the Earth (9:38 pm eastern states, 9:08 pm central states and 7:38 pm WA, see simulation above). Even the part of the Moon not covered by Earth’s shadow will be darker than normal.

After this the shadow will withdraw, and the eclipse will be finished by 11:00 pm in the eastern states, 10:30 pm in the central states and 9:00 pm in WA.

Cloud cover predictions can be found at SkippySky. Weather predictions form the BOM.


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