Can we see the Total Lunar Eclipse in Australia?

Total Lunar Eclipse, photo credits: Nick James

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This is a night of night: a Total Eclipse of the Moon happening just as the Sun enters the Sign of Capricorn, right on the Summer Solstice in Southern latitudes. This means that the Sun is as South as it can be (perpendicular at midday over the Tropic of Capricorn),  and the Moon as North as it can be, because in opposition to the Sun. This fact makes it more difficult for southern observers to view the Eclipse, because the Moon will be at its greatest northerly declination, therefore lowest in our southern skies.

The Moon will enter the shadow of the Earth just on moon-rise this evening, in some parts of Eastern Australia.

The eclipse will be partially visible for about 13 minutes in Brisbane, for instance, and the beautiful Northern Rivers region where I live. In the best of circumstances we may be able to observe it in its totality for a little while. The best observation points in Australia will be in Queensland, getting better and better as we travel North, toward the Tropic of Capricorn.

Entering the Earth’s shadow so close to the horizon will have the effect of colouring the Moon’s disk with a rusty-red hue. For the same reason you’ll need a clear vista toward the East-North-East, or you’ll miss it.

Here are two sky-scapes recorded by Stellarium (free software program). The top one shows the Moon rising at around 8 pm, looking East-North-East, and the bottom one is from the same angle but taken half an hour later, around 8.30 pm. Notice the reddish-rusty look of the Earth shadow over the Moon.

In places like North America  and Western South America, where the Eclipse will be visible in its entirety, the event will last one hour and 13 minutes.

Sadly for Sydney’s observers by the time the Moon becomes visible the Eclipse will be just about over.

In some parts of mainland Australia people will be able to watch just a fraction of the event. As we go further West the Moon will rise too late for the Eclipse to be visible.

There will be no Eclipse view at all in Western Australia.

For an astrological interpretation of the possible effects of this Eclipse, and the Horoscope of the actual event, please navigate to my post: The Total Gemini/Cancer Lunar Eclipse at the Capricorn Solstice, too much for one day?

For more information on this and other Eclipses, past and future, please navigate to the Nasa Eclipse Page here.

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