Observations

The Total Lunar Eclipse of November 8, 2022

A ‘lantern slide’ image of the partial lunar eclipse of Feb 20, 1905. Powerhouse Collection 85/59-3/14. The eclipse of November 4, 2022 is not partial but a much more spectacular total lunar eclipse.

 

On the night of Tuesday November 8, 2022 a total lunar eclipse will be visible from across Australia and New Zealand*. It will be the first such eclipse visible from these locations since May 2021. The next total lunar eclipse visible in full from Australia will not be until September 2025.

It is quite safe to watch this eclipse in its entirety by eye or through binoculars or a telescope.

What is a lunar eclipse and how common are they?

You can read more about what eclipses are and how often they occur here.

When does the eclipse happen on November 8 2022?

Times for the eclipse vary depending on your location.

For those in NSW the partial eclipse, when the Moon moves into the darker part of Earth’s shadow, begins at 8:09pm AEDT. The Moon is fully, or totally, eclipsed from 9:16pm to 10:42pm. The partial eclipse ends at 11:49pm when the Moon finally leaves the darker part of Earth’s shadow.

For other locations Table 1 provides times.

You might notice that different sources provide slightly different times from those given here. This is due to differences in how the fuzzy edge of Earth’s shadow is defined and in how the Moon’s motion is modelled.

Table 1: Circumstances of the total lunar eclipse of November 8, 2022 for Australian and New Zealand cities. Times with a * are for November 9. Blanks indicated that event occurs before the Moon rises at that location, i.e. Perth & Darwin miss out on parts of this eclipse. Copied from the “2022 Australasian Sky Guide” by Dr Nick Lomb. Copyright Powerhouse.

What will I see?

From Australian and New Zealand locations this eclipse will occur in the north-eastern sky with the Moon rising up and to the left as the eclipse progresses. For the best viewing, particularly of the early stages, find a location with an unobstructed eastern and north-eastern horizon.

During a lunar eclipse the Moon first moves into the fainter part of Earth’s shadow, called the “penumbra”, then into the darker central part of the shadow (the “umbra”) then back through the penumbra before leaving Earth’s shadow completely. In practice, the penumbral parts are barely noticable.

Shortly after the partial eclipse begins (when the Moon’s edge first enters Earth’s dark umbral shadow) you will see a dark “bite” missing from the Moon’s lower edge. This bite grows until the Moon is completely inside the shadow. “Totality” begins now. You will notice the Moon has turned a reddish colour. The reddish colour fades to grey as totality ends and the Moon begins to move out of Earth’s dark umbral shadow. The partial eclipse ends when the Moon fully leaves Earth’s umbral shadow.

The movement of the Moon through Earth’s shadow gives a powerful impression of the real movement of the Moon in its orbit about the our planet.

Why does the Moon turn red during a total lunar eclipse?

When the Moon is fully immersed in the dark part of Earth’s shadow (the umbra) it takes on a reddish colour due to light being bent or refracted onto the Moon by the Earth’s atmosphere. But there is a little more to it than that.

The Sun, Earth & Moon are perfectly aligned during a total lunar eclipse. This is called a syzygy. Light from the Sun passes through Earth’s atmosphere and is deflected (or refracted) into the shadow and onto the Moon as if the atmosphere was acting like a prism. You might notice that the blue light is bent more by the prism. So why doesn’t the Moon look blue? The red, orange and maybe a little of the yellow light passes right through Earth’s atmosphere and is refracted towards the Moon but the green, blue, indigo and violet light (yes, that’s all the colours of the rainbow!) are scattered in all directions into the atmosphere. If you look up you will see this blue light – its the blue of the sky.

There is one more effect that determines the colour of the Moon when it is totally eclipsed. As well as the refraction and the scattering there is dust in Earth’s atmosphere that simply blocks some of the light from reaching the Moon. This just darkens the red colour.

The refraction, scattering and blocking effects vary slightly from eclipse to eclipse so the Moon’s exact colour also varies. It can be brown, reddish brown, coppery or even a blood red. Hence the term “blood Moon”.

 

Don’t miss this opportunity to witness another grand spectacle free of charge from the universe!

The Sydney Observatory Total Lunar Eclipse Event

Sydney Observatory is hosting an event to view this eclipese. However, it is now ‘waitlisted’.

 

* This eclipse will also be visible from New Guinea, the Pacific region and large parts of south east Asia and the Americas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.