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Earth Casts Its Shadow

Understanding Lunar Eclipses

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to watch. You don't need any kind of protective filters. It isn't even necessary to use a telescope.

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You can watch the lunar eclipse with nothing more than your own two eyes. If you have a pair of binoculars, they will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration brighter and easier to see.

How to see the next lunar eclipse in the UK

A standard pair of 7x35 or 7x50 binoculars work fine. Remember to dress warmly and enjoy the spectacle! Amateur astronomers can actually make some useful observations during total eclipses. It's impossible to predict exactly how dark the Moon will appear during totality. The color can also vary from dark gray or brown, through a range of shades of red and bright orange.

The color and brightness depend on the amount of dust in Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse. Using the Danjon Brightness Scale for lunar eclipses, amateurs can categorize the Moon's color and brightness during totality. Another useful amateur activity requires a telescope. Using a standard list lunar craters, one can careful measure the exact time when each crater enters and leaves the umbral shadow. These crater timings can be used to estimate the enlargement of Earth's atmosphere due to airborne dust and volcanic ash.

Of course, an eclipse of the Moon also presents a tempting target to photograph. Fortunately, lunar eclipse photography is easy provided that you have the right equipment and use it correctly. See MrEclipse's Picks for camera, lens and tripod recommendations.

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For more photographs taken during previous lunar eclipses, be sure to visit Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery. Penumbral eclipses are of little interest because they are hard to see. If we consider only partial and total lunar eclipses, how often do they occur? During the five thousand year period from BCE through CE, there are 7, eclipses of the Moon partial and total. This averages out to about one and a half eclipses each year. Actually, the number of lunar eclipses in a single year can range from 0 to 3.

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The last time that 3 total lunar eclipses occurred in one calendar year was in Partial eclipses slightly outnumber total eclipses by 7 to 6. The table below lists every lunar eclipse from through Click on the eclipse Date to see a diagram of the eclipse and a world map showing where it is visible from. Although penumbral lunar eclipses are included in this list, they are usually hard to see because they are faint.

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  4. The Umbral Magnitude is the fraction on the Moon's diameter immersed in the umbra at maximum eclipse. For values greater than 1.

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    For negative values, it is a penumbral eclipse. The Eclipse Duration column lists the length of the partial eclipse in hours and minutes. If it is a total eclipse, two values are given. The first is the amount of time between the start and end of the partial phases while the second in bold is the length of the total eclipse. For an extended version of this table, see: Lunar Eclipse Preview: Upcoming lunar eclipses visible from the U.

    ESA - Total lunar eclipse

    Therefore, eclipses do not occur every month. Instead, there are two eclipse seasons every year, about 6 months apart. Eclipses can occur only then the Sun, Moon and Earth line up perfectly, that is, when the line of interesection of the Earth's orbit plane and the Moon's points directly at the Sun. This is called the line of nodes.

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    In another two weeks, when the Moon is back to its Full Moon phase, the Sun will cast a shadow onto the lunar orb — a lunar eclipse. According to space agency NASA , the eclipse will be a partial eclipse, obscuring more than half of the Moon. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon and Sun are on opposite sides of Earth. And the New Moon passed in front of the Sun to blot out the glowing disc of the star.