Sunday, December 27, 2009

upcoming eclipses

Thanks to Nurit and Asher for the notice and info.

Get ready for not one, but 2 eclipses!

This Thursday night, Dec 31, we will have a very slight lunar eclipse. The view will be about the same from anywhere on this half of the globe.Only about 7% of the oon will enter the Earth's shadow. The casual observer may not notice anything, but it's more pronounced through binoculars or a telescope.

Lunar eclipse Thursday,Dec 31
starts -  20:53 IST
ends  -  21:52 IST

Look for the full moon high in the eastern sky. The shadow will be most pronounced at mid-eclipse, around 9:25pm on lower right side of the moon.

January 31st will thus be a momentous date!  Not only will it mark the end of 2009, but the lunar eclipse will also fall on a "blue  moon," which in popular usage (there are alternate definitions) is the second full moon in a calendar month (the first was Dec. 2).
Solar Eclipse
See full size image

Then, two weeks later, we will have a partial solar eclipse on the morning of Friday Jan 15th.  Solar and lunar eclipses often come together. Because the sun and moon are lined up on one side of the Earth, they usually stay that way fourteen and a half days later, when the Moon has gone half-way around to the other side of the Earth. This solar eclipse will be annular over central Africa and the far East. Here in Israel it will be partial with a maximum of 24% of the Sun covered by the Moon. Most people will not notice anything, as even 76% of the Sun is pretty bright.  However, anyone with the correct equipment for viewing the sun will be able to see an obvious bite missing at the peak of the eclipse.

For safe solar viewing methods, see these:

Solar eclipse Friday, Jan 15:
06:41 Sun (& Moon) rise
07:04 partial eclipse visible in Israel
08:03 peak of eclipse in Israel (24%) 15 degrees above SE horizon
09:11 end of eclipse in Israel

(and for you calendar freaks):
09:12 molad
13:23 average molad

Both of these events will be well-timed for some sidewalk astronomy because they are at reasonable hours when most of us do not have work or school. So invite your friends and neighbors and show them a bit of solar system choose a location with a good view of the eastern horizon. To double check, go out a few days earlier at 8am and note where you can see the Sun.


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