With the Transit of Venus only days away, I almost forgot that we will have the opportunity to observe a partial lunar eclipse tomorrow night. Unlike the upcoming partial solar eclipse which will occur this November, you can look directly at a lunar eclipse. Lunar eclipses occur when the Moons orbital motion around the Earth temporarily carries it through the Earth’s shadow.
I always find lunar eclipses interesting because each one is different. Contrary to many peoples expectations, the part of the Moon that goes through the Earth’s shadow doesn’t turn black but instead goes a faint orange or red colour. This occurs because the Earth’s atmosphere acts like a weak lens and bends light into its own shadow. Red light is bent easiest and therefore the Earth’s shadow is a faint orange or red colour.
Event times for Partial Lunar Eclipse 4 June 2012
- Penumbral eclipse begins: 6.46 pm AEST
- Partial eclipse begins: 7.59 pm AEST
- Mid-eclipse: 9.03 pm AEST
- Partial eclipse ends: 10.07 pm AEST
- Penumbral eclipse ends: 11.07 pm AEST