Saturday, 10 December 2011

Lunar Eclipse graces the Far North

The night the moon turns red - let's hope for some clear skies in Cairns

Michael Serenc
Saturday, December 10, 2011
© The Cairns Post

Bright night: A total lunar eclipse is set to encapsulate the Far North this weekend.

Stargazers will be treated to a rare phenomenon this weekend, as a total lunar eclipse encapsulates the Far North.

Occurring twice a year, the lunar eclipse is set to dazzle thousands in the region with the moon turning a unique shade of blood red. "It's going to be a fantastic view …we're pretty much in the perfect spot for it," JCU Centre for Astronomy director Associate Prof Andrew Walsh said. "The timing of the eclipse is such that the earth will rotate and we will be looking straight up at the moon."

Caused when the moon passes through the earth's umbral shadow, Prof Walsh said scattered sunlight would filter through the earth's atmosphere, with the end result being a blood red reflection off the moon.  Beginning in its initial penumbural phase at 9.34pm, the eclipse will gradually progress to the partial and then total (mid) phase by 12.32am on Sunday.  "Totality" will last 51 minutes.

The eclipse will then slowly move back through the partial and penumbural phases before finishing about 3.30am. Weather conditions will feature scattered showers and storm on the Tableland tonight, but should ease for better visibility.

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