Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lunar eclipse on Monday morning

Eclipsed Moon from
I thought this eclipse would not be visible from Israel, but I got a heads up from Ira the Starman of Mitzpe Ramon that it will be! There is a media frenzy in the US as some fundamentalist Christians think that this final lunar eclipse of a foursome  (Tetrad) signals the end of the world.  I am not too concerned.

In the US the eclipse will be conveniently visible in the evening hours. Here in Israel however,  we will have to wait till the wee hours of Monday Sep. 28 in the morning (after the first night of Sukkot). The partial phase begins at 4:07am as the Full Moon begins to slip into the dark umbra shadow cast by the earth. The ashen shadow will grow progressively larger for about an hour till the whole moon is covered at 5:11am. During this total phase the moon gets a  coppery red hue which is sometimes called a "blood moon" encouraging modern prophets of doom to recall the words in the Bible from Joel 3:4:  "The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.".

 הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ יֵהָפֵךְ לְחֹשֶׁךְ, וְהַיָּרֵחַ לְדָם--לִפְנֵי, בּוֹא יוֹם יְ-ה-וָ-ה, הַגָּדוֹל, וְהַנּוֹרָא.

The eclipsed moon will be very low in the western sky. So be sure to find a spot with a clear view to the western horizon with no buildings or trees in the way. If you are not sure which way west is, just note where the sun sets the night before, that is where the moon will be the next morning. (This does not necessarily work for all other days of the year). 

The total phase officially lasts till 6:23, but as sunrise nears at 6:30 the brightening dawn sky will likely make the moon invisible before then. If you are up and watching, do note the latest time you where able to see the moon before sunrise and drop me a note.

Local eclipse times in  Israel  (IDT)

04:07 Partial phase starts
05:11 Total phase starts
05:47 Mid-eclipse (darkest moon)
06:23 Total phase ends just before Moonset and Sunrise

For more details and nice graphics from NASA see


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