PRAVDA.ru correspondents witnessed the lunar eclipse in Moscow last night. The sky was clear and the eclipse appeared remarkable. The astronomically uninformed probably were startled by an unusual sight in yesterday's morning sky: a total eclipse of the moon.
"It had a slightly ghostly appearance," said Nick Lomb, curator of astronomy at the Sydney Observatory.
"It (looked) like a faint red disc, fairly low down in the sky," he said. "If you didn't know what it was it would be a complete mystery."
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes into Earth's shadow as it orbits our planet.
Not all eclipses are total, due to a slight tilt in the moon's orbit with respect to Earth's orbit around the sun. So those missing yesterday's pre-dawn spectacle must wait until October 2005 for a reprise.
Astro-fans have more highlights ahead, with a double comet show expected beginning tonight. Comet Neat will be on it's closet approach to Earth, and at its brightest.
Mid-month, Comet Linear will hit it's visual prime. Like its partner, it will appear a smidgen from Sirius, the brightest star in the evening sky. If that's not enough, next June will see the first transit of Venus since 1881. As Captain James Cook observed in 1769, a transit occurs when the planet moves across the sun's disc, reports theaustralian.news.com.au
According to scotsman.com lunar eclipses can only occur at full moon.
They happen when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in a near-perfect line in space and the Moon travels through the long, cone-shaped shadow the Earth casts in space.
The Moon does not become invisible during an eclipse but appears a dark colour - usually a shade of brown, coppery-red or orange. This happens because the Earth’s shadow is not completely black. The atmosphere diverts some sunlight, most of it red light, into the shadow. That makes the shadow lighter round its edge than in the middle.
The colour that the Moon takes on often varies from one eclipse to another, according to how much dust there happens to be in the Earth’s atmosphere at the time.
According to an earlier report by Pravda.Ru the next lunar eclipse visible from the UK is on 28 October 2004.
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