Sun, Dec 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Lunar eclipse to wow stargazers

ALIGNED:Astronomers said next weekend’s night-sky spectacle would begin at 7:30pm. Onlookers will see the moon turn red later on — as long as it doesn’t rain

Staff Writer, with CNA

Astronomists in Taiwan will be able to catch every stage of a total lunar eclipse on Saturday, with observation conditions the best in more than a decade, according to the Taipei Astronomical Museum.

It said that the eclipse would begin at 7:30pm and last until about 1:30am the next day, the -longest visible lunar eclipse in recent years.

The museum said it is a “once in a blue moon” opportunity because lunar eclipses are usually cut short because of interference from sunlight.

The last time Taiwanese were treated to the rare astronomical event was in 2000, museum -assistant researcher Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭) said.

The next total lunar eclipse will take place in 2018, the researcher added.

Chang said her advice to astronomy enthusiasts was not to miss what she called the “greatest eclipse” — when the moon becomes entirely obscured as it passes through the Earth’s shadow.

“To me, it’s a super spooky experience,” she said, explaining that the moon will turn completely copper-red when the phenomenon takes place at about 10:30pm.

The change in the moon’s color is caused by the scattering of sunlight that peeps through from behind the Earth as it passes between the moon and the sun.

A total lunar eclipse can be easily observed, Chang said, as it is visible to the naked eye, so all one has to do is simply look up in the eastern sky to see it.

However, since the chance of rainfall is high for Saturday, according to the Central Weather Bureau, it is possible that the lunar spectacle could be blocked by clouds.

“It would be such a pity if it rains that night,” Chang said.

“A total lunar eclipse is absolutely a family event that will bring everyone utmost entertainment,” she added.

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