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

MAY 15/16, 2003

On May 15/16 a total lunar eclipse took place. Although it could be observerd from a large from a large part of the western hemisphere many observers in the US experienced clouds. In The netherlands Astronet and Copernicus Public Observatory in cooperation with the Dutch educational website Kennislink ("Knowledge Link") organised a live webcast of the event. The sky was clear but soon after totatity began the Moon was too low above the horizon. In Belgium Mira Public Observatory experienced the same clear sky to capture images with their webcam.


Copernicus Public Observatory

Henk Bril sent the following pictures of the eclipse. He used a Sony DSC-F707 digital camera, at 100 ISO. Bril reprts that soon after totality began twilight was becoming so stark that the moon became invisible. The lights at the horizon are from the town of Sittard.

02:29 UT.
1/8 sec at f 2,4 , 10x zoom.

03:06 UT.
1 sec at f 2,4, 5x zoom.

03:11 UT.
½ sec at f 2,4, 5x zoom.

Mira Public Observatory at Grimbergen, Belgium, took the following image of totality before twilight took over.

Mira Public Observatory

Mira Public Observatory also made a DivX animation of the lunar eclipse.

Rijk-Jan Koppejan made the following mosaic of the lunar eclipse. Members of the Philippus Lansbergen Public Observatory in Middelburg (The Netherlands) went to Westkapelle whre Rijk-Jan Kopejan lives to observe the total lunar eclipse. The moon was setting, so they only could see the first part of the eclipse. Koppejan and hsi fellow observers had fine views over the sea, and about 20 visitors came to this beautiful spot to enjoy the eclipse.

Rijk-Jan Koppejan

Fred Naberman from Groningen, The Netherlands, took this shot of the partial phases with his Minolta camera.

Fred Naberman

NASA astronaut Ed Lu, the flight engineer and science officer living aboard the International Space Station (ISS), snapped this digital image near the time of totality.


Guillermo Oyhenhart of La Arena newspaper took these stunning pictures while traveling through the Pampas of Argentina searching for clear skies.

Guillermo Oyhenhart

James W. Young of JPL's Table Mountain Observatory, California, USA, used the 10-inch f/5 Parks reflector and a Minolta Dimage 7Hi digital camera with a 20 second exposure to capture totality. More of Jim Young's fabulous pictures can be viewed at his Astronomy Photograph Gallery.

James W. Young

Bob Sandy of Roanoke County, Virginia, USA, concentrated on the occultation of the star HR 5762 in Libra during the lunar eclipse. The six images were taken with a 400mm lens and a Canon D60 digital camera. Click on the image to follow the occultation! More pictures taken by Bob Sandy of the Sun, Moon, eclipses, planets and stars can be admired on his Astrophotos page.

Bob Sandy

Steve Rismiller of Milford, Ohio, USA, took this image of the eclipsed Moon and the star just about to be covered up. Photo details: 102 ED Vixen refractor, 32mm eyepiece, a Nikon 995 digital camera at ISO 400 and a 4 second exposure. Steve Rismiller is a keen photographer of Sun and Moon and celestial phenonomena. Check out his Starfield Observatory.

Steve Rismiller has a very nice Lunar Eclipse Gallery. Astronet also welcomes your images to be included on this page!


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 1:05 Universal Time (UT). About thirty minutes later a slight dusky shading can be noticed on the leading edge of the Moon.

At 2:02 UT the Moon begins its entry into the innermost shadow zone, or umbra. For an hour a circular shadow creeps across the Moon's face. At 3:14 UT, the Moon will lie completely within Earth's dark shadow. It will then take on an eerie coppery tint that has often ben compared with blood.

During a total eclipse the Moon
shines with a orange reddish glow.

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.

Animation of the lunar eclipse.
Courtsey: 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 4:07 UT, when the moon's leading edge exits the umbra. The moon will leave the umbra completely at 5:18 UT, and the eclipse will end at 6:15 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 May 15/16, 2003.

Courtesy: Fred Espenak


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