Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blood Moon
The kids and I, along with most of the world I presume, enjoyed the lunar eclipse last night.
I love the fact that the kids are old enough to appreciate this sort of phenomena now.


From yesterday's Sydney Morning Herald:

The moon is expected to turn anything from a yellowish brown to a blood red in Tuesday night's total lunar eclipse.
The eclipse, visible to the naked eye anywhere in Australia, will begin at sunset when the earth, the sun and the moon fall into perfect alignment.
The moon's surface will darken as the earth's shadow creeps across it to create a partial eclipse from just before 7pm (AEST), with the total eclipse visible one hour later.
Although it will be a total eclipse the ring of light around the earth's edge is enough to illuminate the moon's surface.
If there is enough dust in the earth's atmosphere the surface will appear blood red.
An eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun's light. It is rare because the moon is usually either above or below the plane of the earth's orbit.
"It is a pretty sight and it's an unusual sight so it's worth looking at," said Professor Mike Dopita from the Australian National University's School of Astronomy.
"The moon gets this sometimes quite blood red colour and it's quite an interesting sight to see although it is of no astronomical importance at all."
Prof Dopita said it was hard to predict exactly what colour the moon would be.
"It really varies. Sometimes it's a kind of a sunset yellowish colour, sometimes it looks quite red. It depends upon whether there's been volcanic activity.
"When there's more dust it turns redder. After Mt Pinatubo Volcano (in the Philippines) erupted (in 1991) there was lots and lots of dust in the atmosphere but that has all settled.
"It might be anything from a yellowish earthy colour to a really dull brownish colour passing through red and in between, but an unusual colour to see the moon anyway."
The last total lunar eclipse, visible in Australia, was in July 2000.
Prof Dopita said total eclipses were relatively infrequent.
"There's usually about two of them a year but they are usually partial - a total one is a little bit rarer," he said.
The next total lunar eclipse visible in Australia will occur in December 2011.

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