On Friday, 19 November, from approximately 7:45 pm to 9:30 pm, the Canberra region will be treated to its second lunar eclipse of 2021.
Dr Brad Tucker, from Mount Stromlo Observatory, explained the phenomenon of the partial lunar eclipse and what Canberrans can expect to witness as the moon goes around the Earth and into its shadow.
“What actually happens is there’s a little bit of red light that skims the Earth’s atmosphere so what you’re essentially getting is a little bit of sunrise and sunset light skimming the Earth’s atmosphere and going off into space,” he said.
“As the moon goes around, it goes into this light so the moon will turn dark and then it will go into this red light and the moon will turn red.
“It’s not going to be 100 per cent dark or red because it’s not the exact perfect alignment. It’s going to be 97-98 per cent so no-one will really notice.”
The common phrase is a ‘blood moon (as pictured above), but what is particularly interesting is the eclipse will begin before the moon rises above the horizon.
“What that means is as the moon is rising it will actually rise dark and red so it will look fantastic,” said Dr Tucker. “Instead of just being up in the sky and going through this change, it will rise red so it will be a very spectacular sight.
“My recommendation is to do whatever you can to have as clear a view to the east as possible – maybe go to Mount Ainslie or somewhere like that.”
Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to look at. Dr Tucker said the most important thing is finding an unobstructed view.
There was a lunar eclipse just six lunar cycles ago, at the end of May, but the expectation is there won’t be a lunar eclipse at all in 2022.
For people not wanting to spend two hours watching the night sky, Dr Tucker said the main action will be on display from 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm.