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Wednesday, September 14, 2016


Penumbral Lunar Eclipse (Morning, Saturday September 17, 2016)

Morning sky on Saturday September 17 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 04:00 ACST. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at the equivalent local time. (click to embiggen). Note the subtle darkening of the Moon.Earth's shadow is formed from two overlapping cone-shaped sections. The outer or penumbral shadow is where the Earth blocks part but not all of the Sun's light from reaching the Moon. Click to embiggen

On the morning of 17 September there is a penumbral eclipse of the Moon, where the Moon glides through the outer segment of the shadow cast by Earth. Unlike earlier this year, the Moon dives deeper into the outer shadow, so although faint there will be a visible visible darkening of the Moons northern regions. An example from the penumbral eclipse in 2012 can be seen here.

Unfortunately, this all occurs in the early morning, so you will need to get up in the early hours to see it. However, to eclipse aficionados the subtle darkening of the Moons bright light to a pearly glow is quiet beautiful.

All of Australia will see this penumbral eclipse from start to maximum. However, in the eastern states the Moon sets before the eclipse finishes (see table below) . More importantly, in the eastern states astronomical twilight begins around maximum, so the faint penumbral shadow will be washed out by the twilight glow about an hour before the Moon sets. Central states have around half an hour more time before the eclipse will be washed out.

See the table below for timings for major cities (all times are am on the morning of the 17th). Twilight is Astronomical twilight, an hour and a half before sunrise, when the sky is still fully dark. See here for a map and contact timings in UT for sites outside Australia. Asia and Africa have the best views. My guide to imaging eclipses may be helpful.

CityEclipse startMid eclipseTwilight End eclipse Moonset
Adelaide (ACST)2:234:244:486:266:23
Brisbane (AEST)2:524:544:266:565:25
Canberra (AEST)2:524:544:366:566:10
Darwin (ACST)2:234:245:306:266:50
Hobart (AEST)2:524:544:356:566:20
Melbourne (AEST)2:524:544:506:566:28
Perth (AWST)0:532:544:524:566:26
Sydney (AEST)2:524:544:296:566:01

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