Next live webcast: Total Lunar Eclipse of February 20-21, 2008

OCTOBER 27-28, 2004

On Wednesday 27 October 2004 (Thursday 28 October during the early morning hours in Europe and Africa), the full Moon passed through the Earth's shadow, producing a total lunar eclipse for skywatchers throughout Asia, Australia, Europe, Africa and South America. In The Netherlands and Belgium Astronet in cooperation with Dutch and Belgian public observatories organized a live webcast of the event.

Weather conditions

It was cloudy in Holland and Belgium. The rest of Europe experienced a heavy overcast as well except for parts of Norway, Italy and Madrid in Spain. The Canary Islands experienced some clouds but did transfer images of the eclipse. The USA also suffered from rain and cloud cover and rebroadcasted images from Madrid, Spain. It was clear in Iran (until full moon before daybreak), Argentina and Brazil. By courtesy of and we were able to show live images from their observation sites.


Photo by Peter Lawrence from England and Peter Cleary from Canada
The spectacular photograph above shows superimposed shots of the eclipsed moon taken at the same time to show the moon's parallax against the background of the fixed stars. "Both alignment images were taken at precisely 03:30 UT," explains Lawrence. "These shots were over-exposed to pick out background stars. Moments later, two 'beauty' shots were taken and pasted over the alignment shots. The result illustrates that the moon is much closer than the background stars."

Photo by Felipe
Florianópolis, SC, Brazil

Photo by Sakari Ekko,

  • Lunar Eclipse Gallery, October 27-28 2004


    02:10 UT

    02:44 UT

    03:45 UT

    03:50 UT

    04:07 UT
    Archive images by door Carsten Arnholm, Oslo, Noorwegen

    Archive image by
    Saros Group Scientific Expeditions and
    from Melia Tamarindos Observatory
    (San Agustín - Gran Canaria - Canary Islands)

    Archive image by
    Unione Astrofili Italiani
    Rocca di Papa
    Roma, Italia

    Archive image by
    Unione Astrofili Italiani
    Oss. Astronomico Fuligni
    Associazone Tuscolana, Italia

  • Archive images of the live webcast by the Observatorio, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), Madrid, Spain

  • Universetetet i Oslo, Institutt for Teoretisk Astrofysikk: Beautiful Lunar Eclipse


    Copper Moon

    A lunar eclipse occurs when the Full Moon passes through the Earth's shadow.

    The Moon encounters the penumbra, the Earth's outermost shadow zone, at 17:51 Universal Time (UT). About thirty minutes later a slight dusky shading can be noticed on the leading edge of the Moon.

    At 01:15 UT the Moon begins its entry into the innermost shadow zone, or umbra. For more than an hour a circular shadow creeps across the Moon's face. At 02:23 UT, the Moon will lie completely within Earth's dark shadow. It will then take on an eerie coppery tint that has often been compared with blood.

    During a total eclipse the Moon shines with a orange reddish glow
    Photograph: Robert Smallegange (Leeuwarden, The Netherlands)

    Without Earth's atmosphere, the Moon would disappear completely once immersed in the umbra. Longer wavelengths of light penetrate Earth's atmosphere better than shorter wavelengths, which is why the rising or setting sun looks reddish. In essence, the ruddy tint of a totally eclipsed moon comes from the ring of atmosphere around Earth's limb that scatters a sunset-like glow into the umbra.

    During totality a ring of reddish sunlight surrounds the Earth
    Courtesy: Francis Reddy.

    The hue actually changes from one eclipse to another, ranging from a bright coppery orange to brownish. The Moon may darken so much that it becomes all but invisible to the unaided eye. These very dark lunar eclipses often occur after exceptional volcanic eruptions.

    Totality will end at 03:44 UT, when the moon's leading edge exits the umbra. The moon will leave the umbra completely at 04:53 UT, and the eclipse will end at 06:03 UT when the moon makes its last contact with the penumbra.

    Path of the Moon through Earth's umbral and penumbral shadows during
    the total lunar eclipse of October 27-28, 2004.
    P1=00:06, U1=01:14, U2=02:23, U3=03:45, U4=04:54, P4=06:03 (UT).

    Courtesy: Fred Espenak

    Crater timings

    In 1702, Pierre de La Hire made a curious observation about Earth's umbra. In order to accurately predict the duration of a lunar eclipse, he found it necessary to increase the radius of the shadow about 2% larger than warranted by geometric considerations. Although the effect is clearly related to Earth's atmosphere, it's not completely understood since the shadow enlargement seems to vary from one eclipse to the next. The enlargement can be measured through careful timings of lunar craters as they enter and exit the umbra. Such observations are best made using a low-power telescope and a clock or watch synchronized with radio time signals. Timings should be made to a precision of 0.1 minute. The basic idea is to record the instant when the most abrupt gradient at the umbra's edge crosses the apparent centre of the crater. In the case of large craters like Tycho and Copernicus, it's recommended that you record the times when the shadow touches the two opposite edges of the crater. The average of these times is equal to the instant of crater bisection.

    Below can be found predictions for the immersions and emersions of craters and mountains Moon. All times are in Universal Time (UT).

    Immersions and emersions of craters and mountains during the eclipse

    Immersion    Crater/Mountain	Emersion
    01:15	     Riccioli		03:53
    01:16        Grimaldi   	03:54
    01:20 	     Billy	    	03:01
    01:27        Kepler	   	03:58
    01:28 	     Aristarchus	03:52
    01:29	     Campanus		04:13	             
    01:35	     Copernicus		04:06
    01:38        Tycho		04:23
    01:38 	     Pytheas		04:02
    01:44 	     Timocharis		04:03
    01:45 	     Harpalus		03:49
    01:45 	     Bianchini		03:51
    01:52 	     Manilius		04:18
    01:52	     Autolyticus	04:08
    01:53	     Pico		03:59
    01:54 	     Piton		04:04
    01:55	     Dionysius		04:26
    01:55	     Plato		03:57
    01:56	     Menelaus		04:21
    02:00	     Plinius		04:25
    02:02	     Censorinus		04:35
    02:03	     Eudoxus		04:08
    02:04	     Aristoteles	04:06
    02:05	     Vitruvius		04:27
    02:06	     Goclenius		04:42
    02:09	     Messier		04:41
    02:10	     Taruntius		04:38
    02:12	     Proclus		04:34
    02:13	     Langrenus		04:47
    02:17	     Endymion		04:13

    Request of observations

    Dr. Richard Keen (Program for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (PAOS), University of Colorado) is interested in brightness estimates (total visual magnitude and Danjon L values) of the moon during totality. His plan is to summarize the results from the 2003-2004 series of lunar eclipses in the Smithsonian Volcano Bulletin after this eclipse of October.

    Richard Keen communicates:

    Dear Friends -

    I am writing to request observations of the brightness of the moon during the total lunar eclipse. The brightness of the moon during a total lunar eclipse is extremely sensitive to the presence of volcanic dust in the earth's atmosphere. As part of a continuing research project, I have used observed lunar eclipse brightnesses to calculate a history of optical thicknesses of volcanic dust layers (R. Keen, "Volcanic Aerosols and Lunar Eclipses", Science, 222, pages 1011-1013, 1983; Sky & Telescope, June 1984, page 512). The resulting optical thicknesses are useful to climatologists (for volcano-climate studies) and to volcanologists (for estimating total amount of material ejected by an eruption). While this total lunar eclipse is visible from Colorado, it will be rather low in the evening sky. Besides, there's no guarantee of clear skies! So, I am requesting your help.

    Here's a brief description of one way to measure the brightness of a lunar eclipse:

    The totally eclipsed moon is usually brighter than most comparison stars (I expect about magnitude -3 at second and third contacts, and -1.4 at mid-totality, assuming no volcanic dust present), and its brightness needs to be reduced before a direct comparison can be made. An easy way to do this is to view the moon through reversed binoculars with one eye, comparing the reduced lunar image with stars seen directly with the other eye. The estimated magnitude of the reduced moon can be adjusted by a factor depending on the magnification of the binoculars, yielding the actual magnitude of the moon. For example, reversed 10x50 binoculars will reduce the apparent diameter of the moon by a factor of 10, or its brightness by a factor of 100, or 5 magnitudes. If the reduced moon appears like a magnitude 3 star, the actual moon is 5 magnitudes brighter, or -2. The corrections for 8x, 7x, and 6x binoculars are 4.5, 4.2, and 3.9 magnitudes, respectively. These correction factors assume the stated magnification of the binoculars is correct, and neglects light loss in the optics. More accurate correction factors can be empirically derived from observations of Venus, Jupiter, or Sirius.

    Observations made from the beginning to end of totality will reveal the darkening of the moon as it slips deeper into the umbra, but the most useful observations (for measuring volcanic dust) are those taken near mid-totality.

    I am also interested in any and all brightness observations of past or future lunar eclipses. Any reports of Danjon L-scale values will help me compute brightnesses of older eclipses for which only L-values are available. Reports should include time(s) of observation, size of binoculars (or other method) used, and identity of comparison stars or planets.

    Articles about how volcanoes can affect the brightness of a lunar eclipse:
    Dull Grey or Copper-Orange: What Will 2004's Lunar Eclipses Look Like?
    Report on volcanic aerosols since 1960.

    Richard Keen

    Next lunar eclipses

    The next lunar eclipse will be the deep penumbral eclipse of April 24, 2005. On October 17, 2005 a shallow partial lunar eclipse will be visible, followed by a deep penumbral eclipse on March 14, 2006 and a partial lunar eclipse on September 7, 2006. The next total lunar eclipse will take place on March 3, 2007.

    Carl Koppeschaar


    Other live webcasts:

  • Iran: ParsSky -- The last total lunar eclipse of 2004

  • Norway: -- Live pictures of the lunar eclipse

  • Italy: Corriere della sera -- Notte insonne con la Luna eclissata

  • Italy: Unione Astrofili Italiani -- "Notte della Luna Rossa" del 2004

  • Canary Islands: Saros -- Total Lunar Eclipse, 28/10/2004

  • Spain: Observatorio, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) -- Eclipse Total de Luna (28 Octubre 2004)

  • Argentina: Asociácion Argentina "Amigos de la Astronomia" -- Eclipse lunar 27/28-oct-2004

  • Unavailable or cancelled due to heavy overcast:
  • The Netherlands: Paul Dolk, Haarlem -- Live webcast van de maansverduistering

  • The Netherlands: Sterrenkids -- Webcast originating from the Cosmos Observatory, Lattrop, Netherlands

  • Belgium: Mira Public Observatory -- Live webcast van de maansverduistering van 28 Oktober 2004

  • Northern Ireland: East Antrim Astronomical Society -- 28th October 2004 Total Lunar Eclipse Webcast

  • Switzerland: High Moon -- Oct. 27- 28 Lunar Eclipse

  • Spain: Universitat de Barcelona -- Lunar Eclipse (27-28th October 2004)

  • Spain: Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía -- Eclipse Lunar - Octubre 2004

  • Mexico: Saros-México -- Eclipse Total de Luna 27 de Octubre 2004 (UT 28 Oct)

  • Mexico: Universidad de Sonora -- Próximo Eclipse Total de Luna el 27 de Octubre

  • USA: University of North Dakota -- Total lunar eclipse, October 27, 2004

  • Brazil: Universidade do Vale do Paraíba -- Eclipse Total da Lua - 27-28/Outubro/2004

  • October 27-28, 2004 total lunar eclipse:


  • Astronomy Picture of the Day: Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

  • Viewer's Guide: Oct. 27 Total Lunar Eclipse

  • Science@NASA: Total Lunar Eclipse

  • Sky & Telescope: October's Ideal Lunar Eclipse

  • Coming Oct. 27: Total Lunar Eclipse

  • Universe Today: Total Lunar Eclipse: October 27/28

  • Dutch:

  • Astronet: Totale maansverduistering donderdagochtend 28 oktober

  • Auf Deutsch:


  • Mondfinsternis am frühen Morgen des 28. Oktobers 2004

  • Roter Mond. Die totale Mondfinsternis am 28. Oktober 2004

  • En Français:

  • SAF: L'éclipse de Lune du 28 octobre 2004

  • L'éclipse de lune du 28 octobre 2004

  • L'éclipse lunaire, 27 Octobre 2004

  • Éclipse totale de la Lune le 28 octobre 2004

  • L'éclipse total de Lune du 28 octobre 2004

  • In Italiano:

  • Unione Astrofili Italiani: Alba del 28 Ottobre: la seconda "Notte della Luna Rossa" del 2004

  • En Español:

  • Ciencia@Nasa: Eclipse Total de Luna

  • Astroenlazador: Eclipse total de Luna 28 octubre 2004

  • Eclipse Total de Luna – 27-28 de Octubre, 2004

  • AstroRED México: Eclipse Total de Luna 27 de Octubre 2004

  • General information:

  • Total Lunar Eclipse: October 27/28, 2004

  • Crater Timings During Lunar Eclipses

  • Danjon Scale of Lunar Eclipse Brightness

  • Lunar Eclipse Photography

  • Lunar Eclipses: 2001-2010

  • Previous webcasts organized by Astronet:

  • Venus transit, June 8, 2004

  • Totale lunar eclipse, May 4, 2004

  • Total lunar eclipse, November 8-9, 2003
  • Annular solar eclipse, May 31, 2003
  • Total lunar eclipse, May 15-16, 2003
  • Mercury transit, May 7, 2003