Watch the partial eclipse of the Moon

Two weeks after the solar eclipse, there is a chance to see a very large partial eclipse of the Moon from the UK and Europe on the evening of Saturday 16 August.

Moon's passage through the Earth's shadowThe Moon rises over Britain with the eclipse already underway. First contact with the pale outer shadow, the penumbra, takes place at 18:25 UT (7.25 pm BST) when the Moon is still below the horizon for UK observers.

When the Moon finally does rise above the southeastern horizon at around 19:30 UT (8.30 pm BST), it is almost wholly immersed in the penumbra. Minutes after moonrise from much of the UK, it begins to enter the main dark shadow, called the umbra.

First contact with the umbra occurs at 19:36 UT (8.36 pm BST). By 21:10 UT (10.10 pm BST) the Moon is immersed at its maximum depth in the umbra, leaving a sliver of the northern limb shining in the penumbral light, while more than 80 per cent of the lunar disk has assumed a deep red hue. The Moon is then around 13° above the southern horizon for observers in southern England, in the southern constellation of Capriconus. The Moon finally leaves the umbra at 22:44 UT (11.44 pm BST) and exits the penumbra at 23:55 UT (12.55 am BST).

The Earth’s shadow is actually composed of two cones, one darker one within the other. To understand the geometry of this, and the difference between the umbra and penumbra, visit this webpage.

This will be the deepest lunar eclipse visible from the UK until 15 June 2011.

A webcast of the eclipse will be broadcast by noted astronomy author Peter Grego live from St Dennis, Cornwall, between 19:30 UT (8.30 pm BST) and 22:45 UT (11.45 pm BST) at www.lunarobservers.com.

You can observe for yourself with the unaided eye but steadily-held binoculars will help you to follow the shadow’s progress across the Moon’s face.

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Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

One thought on “Watch the partial eclipse of the Moon

  • 07/21/2009 at 3:00 am
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    Well, here is one 'astronomer' with 23 years writing for American newspapers who has indeed seen 'ufos' two mile wide disks reflecting the sun from the bottom of each. So, those of us who have spent the most time looking can tell you that they are indeed here and most likely from this solar system.

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