March 3, 2007

Total Lunar Eclipse to Be 1st in 3 Years

LONDON - The first total lunar eclipse in three years will give nearly every continent at least a partial view when the moon turns a shade of crimson as light reaching it from the sun is blotted out by the Earth.

People in the eastern parts of North and South America will find the moon already partially or totally eclipsed by the time it rises over the horizon, while east Asia will see the eclipse cut short by moonset.

Earth's shadow will begin moving across the moon at 3:18 p.m. EST, with the total eclipse occurring at 5:44 p.m. EST and lasting more than an hour.

Europe, Africa and the Middle East will have the best view, weather permitting; eastern Australia, Alaska and New Zealand will miss Saturday's show but will have front row seats to the next total lunar eclipse, on Aug. 28.

Lunar eclipses occur when Earth passes between the sun and the moon, blocking the sun's light. The event is rare because the moon is usually above or below the plane of Earth's orbit.

Sunlight still reaches the moon during total eclipses, but is refracted through Earth's atmosphere, bathing the moon in an eerie reddish light.

A variety of webcasts were carrying the event, and astronomers urged the public not to miss out on the spectacle.

"It's not an event that has any scientific value, but it's something everybody can enjoy," said Robert Massey of Britain's Royal Astronomical Society.


On the Net:

NASA Lunar Eclipse Page:


K1 Observatory, Isfahan, Iran: