Total Lunar Eclipse! Coming to Your Skies 8th November
For natural cosmic phenomena, you don’t get more remarkable than a Total Eclipse of the Moon!
For a total lunar eclipse to occur, we need the Sun and Moon to be perfectly aligned in their oribts, with the Earth in the middle. As the Moon travels around the far side of the Earth, it passes directly into the shadow of the Earth.
Eclipses are excellent examples of the extraordinary motion of the objects within our Solar System. This year, Western Australians have the privilege of viewing a Lunar Eclipse in the early evening of the 8th of November. The Moon will rise completely eclipsed and will slowly make its way out of the Earth’s shadow. The Moon will turn a stunning red/coppery colour.
The great thing is, you don’t need a telescope to witness this stunning celestial event. It’s spectacular to see with the naked-eye. However, if you have binoculars and/or a telescope, you’ll get a much closer look of course!
When to look: From 7.00pm to 8.50pm, 8th of November.
Which direction to look: The eclipse starts low to the eastern horizon and will have risen higher by the end of the eclipse.
Special Lunar Eclipse Event!
Join the team from Perth Observatory, Astronomical Group of Western Australia, Stargazers Club WA and the International Centre of Radio Astronomy Research at Matilda Bay on the night of the eclipse, and see the Moon through some powerful telescopes with teams of astronomy guides.
During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon becomes a red/coppery colour. As light travels through the atmosphere of Earth, blue light is scattered faster than red light, resulting in blue skies during the day and red/coppery skies at sunrise and sunset. This red/orange light then exits the atmosphere and travels though space, focused by refraction into a structure known as an umbra (Earth’s shadow). When the Moon passes through the umbra the only light that reaches the Moon is the red/orange light left over from sunrises and sunsets the world around. Hence, why we see the red/coppery colour.
Here on Earth we are lucky enough to be able to witness two kinds of eclipses:
- Solar eclipses, when the Moon moves directly between the Sun and the Earth and partially or completely obscures the disk or the Sun; and
- Lunar eclipses, when the Moon moves directly into the shadow cast by Earth into space.
A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are all in a straight line in space. A lunar eclipse is when the Earth is in between the Sun and Moon and the Earth’s shadow moves across the Moon. A total lunar eclipse is when the Earth’s shadow passes over the whole Moon.
Safety Warning – Are Lunar Eclipses Safe to Look at with the Naked Eye?
Lunar eclipses are safe to observe with the naked eye. Although lunar eclipses are safe to observe with the naked eye, solar eclipses ARE NOT. If you are fortunate enough to view a solar eclipse, ensure that appropriate safety precautions are taken to preserve your eyesight.
Remember: Never look at the Sun directly as it can cause permanent eye damage or blindness.