Friday, June 10, 2011

Aussies will see total lunar eclipse as the Moon passes through Earth's shadow

EARLY across Australia will be able to witness a total lunar eclipse above the western horizon as the Moon passes through Earth's shadow.

The eclipse begins at 3.25am AEST on June 16 and enters its darkest phase or 'totality' at 05.22am AEST when the transformation to a blood-red Moon should begin.

Sydney Observatory's acting curator, Dr Andrew Jacob said, “Deep lunar eclipses such as this typically turn a blood-red or even coppery colour, but this is very dependent on the amount of dust and cloud in Earth’s atmosphere.”

This 'syzygy' – a perfect alignment of three astronomical bodies, ends at sunrise in all states but West Australia with the spectacle fading in the twilight.

According to Andrew Jacob, “Historically, lunar eclipses like this were used by Aristotle in the 4th Century BCE to reason that Earth was a sphere. Recent observations of these eclipses may help us understand the atmospheres of extra-solar planets and potentially aid the search for extra-terrestrial life.”

Whilst this lunar eclipse can be viewed safely with the naked eye, Sydney Observatory will hold a special event, with astronomers on hand and viewing through binoculars and telescopes, weather permitting.

Sydney Observatory’s special breakfast viewing includes tea, coffee, croissants and “blood-red” jam to fend off the winter morning shivers.

Source: dailytelegraph

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