Monday, October 6, 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse - 8 Oct 2014 (Wednesday)

On Wednesday 8 Oct, go to any location in Singapore with unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. From 6:52pm - 8:34pm, observe the Moon rising from the East.

There is a Total Lunar Eclipse happening on 8 October 2014 Wednesday.

Weather permitting, this is visible from Singapore and many other countries but not from Europe or Africa.

Here are the timings of the different phases of the eclipse in Singapore Standard Time (UT +8) rounded down to nearest minute.


Penumbral Eclipse Begins          =   4:15 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Partial Eclipse Begins (Umbra)  =   5:14 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Total Eclipse Begins:                  =   6:25 pm   (not visible, below horizon)
Moon rise                                    =   6:52 pm   (rises from east at azimuth 83°)
Greatest Eclipse:                         =   6:54 pm
Total Eclipse Ends:                     =   7:24 pm
Partial Eclipse Ends (Umbra)     =   8:34 pm
Penumbral Eclipse Ends:            =   9.33 pm

(Source:  NASA Eclipse Website, Fred Espenak)

In the context of a Lunar Eclipse:

Umbra = inner, darker shadow of Earth.
Penumbra = outer, lighter shadow of Earth.

Image Credit: Wikipedia 

In the following simulation of Moon as seen from Earth during this eclipse, the inner circle represents umbra shadow of Earth and the other circle represents the penumbra shadow of Earth.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Thus, the visually more exciting part of a Total Lunar Eclipse is from the beginning till the end of the umbra phase, i.e. from 5:14pm - 8:34pm. Since Moon only rises from 6:52pm from Singapore on that day, we will not be able to see the first half of the umbra phase.

If someone ask you how to observe this eclipse in Singapore, just ask them to read this blog. :)

Or, give them the shorter version - the first paragraph of this blog.

This is a timelapse video of the Total Lunar Eclipse in 2011 shot from Singapore by my friend Ivan Bok:


Additional notes:

(1) The ability to observe Total Lunar Eclipse, like all astronomical event, is totally dependent on the weather. So manage your expectation as there is always a possibility of not seeing it due to bad weather - rain, cloud, haze, ...etc.

Moreover, the atmosphere near horizon is more turbulent compared to higher altitude. Even if you can spot the Moon very early just above the horizon, it may look fuzzy or slightly distorted.

Having said that, if there is only very thin layer of clouds and/or haze, Moon may still be visible through them, especially during a Full Moon phase in this case.

(2) Due to the haze situation, you may not find it safe to observe it outdoors. In that case, observe it indoors through windows or glass wall instead! Find one with a good unobstructed view of the east where the Moon will be rising.

(3) If you can't go to a location with unobstructed view of the eastern horizon (e.g. beach), try observing the eclipse from a tall building (e.g. roof-top garden, multi-storey carpark).

(4) If you have a telescope or even an old pair of binocular, trying observing the Moon with it. Unlike solar eclipse, lunar eclipse is very safe to observe with our eyes alone or through optical instruments. You don't need to observe it via its reflection off a pail of water. :)

(5) If you have camera, videocamera with decent optical zoom, try zooming in on Moon and take some photos and videos. Check out these incredible mega-zoom camcorder videos in this blog.

(6) The eclipse will happen near the horizon. At the end of umbra, it is only 23° above horizon. If you are into photography, you can make use of this fact to frame both the Moon and some nearby interesting terrestrial objects in your composition.


*Weather permitting*, my friends and I will be at Bishan Park McDonald's this Wednesday to observe the eclipse. From that location, there is a good view of the eastern horizon.

We will be bringing our telescopes along for public viewing and to take eclipse photos through these telescopes with mobile phones.

Feel free to join us there with your family and friends!

Check my tweets for the latest updates on that day -->

Have fun observing this eclipse. Good luck and clear skies to all!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Free Stargazing Talk - Sun, Moon & Eclipses

The next public stargazing talk is titled "Sun, Moon & Eclipses".

Date: Saturday, 4 October 2014
Time: 7:30pm - 8:30pm
Venue: Toa Payoh Public Library. Level 1 Programme Zone.

Admission is free. No pre-registration required. Late-comers welcomed!

Sun, Moon and Earth lining up in a straight line - an extraordinary celestial wonder that has fascinated human civilisation for millennia and many more to come!

Come attend this talk to see for yourselves how they look like and understand the basic astronomical concepts involved. With this understanding, you will be able to enjoy observing them even more.

Eclipses actually happen quite frequently but appears very rare to the general public because they do not know in advance when and where to look for them.

Learn how to read eclipse charts and find out about upcoming solar and lunar eclipses. There is even one visible from Singapore next Wednesday early evening!

Weather permitting, we will be conducting live stargazing during/after the talk. My friends and I will be deploying our telescopes just outside the main entrance of the library.

So bring your family and friends along and join in the fun!