Thursday, April 25, 2013

Partial Lunar Eclipse - 26 April 2013

There is a *PARTIAL* Lunar Eclipse visible in Singapore tomorrow early morning before sunrise.

Visually, it is NOT exciting or spectacular at all. So do not stay up whole night/morning expecting the whole Moon to turn reddish brown (as in a Total Lunar Eclipse)!

Quote from eclipse webpage from NASA: "This event is barely partial with just 0.5 arc-minutes of the Moon's northern limb dipping into the umbral (darker) shadow".

How small is 0.5 arc-minutes? Extend your arm, extend your pinky finger, look at the width of that finger tip. Divide that distance about 60 times! And then half that 1/60th unit! Only that small part of the Moon will be transiting through the darker shadow of Earth.

Earth's darker shadow (umbra) is represented by the dark brown area in the following diagram. The lighter shadow (penumbra) is represented by the grey area.

Image credit: NASA Eclipse Web Site

Photographically, it may interesting to shoot the Moon before/after and during the partial eclipse at the same settings and see if you can see the difference from the images taken. If the sky is clear enough, the penumbral phase should be visible for those with keen eyesight. But haze and passing clouds may make observing the difference more challenging.

Here are the eclipse timings converted to Singapore time for those who are keen to observe/photograph it:

Date: Friday, 26 April 2013

Penumbral Eclipse Begins = 2:03 AM
Partial Eclipse Begins = 3:54 AM
Greatest Eclipse = 4:07 AM
Partial Eclipse Ends = 4:21 AM
Penumbral Eclipse Ends = 6:11 AM

There should be a few live streaming of this event. Will tweet more if I am still awake by then:

- Virtual Telescope Project

Perhaps more interesting is the star-like object near the Moon tonight - Saturn! Look at through telescope or big binoculars to see its rings and moons! Saturn is only about 3 days to its closest approach to Earth this year!

Sometimes stargazers are accused of sensationalising every single astronomical event. Now you know at least I don't for this Partial Lunar Eclipse. :)

Oh wait, this is the shortest duration (27 mins through umbra) for a partial lunar eclipse since ... ... 1958! :)


Update (3/5/2013):

Check out this partial lunar eclipse photo by Mr Chia shot in Singapore! Very impressive considering the sky condition then was not really clear and haze free. It rained at around 4 am+.

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