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Lunar Eclipse 9 January 2001

The total lunar eclipse was seen from cloudless skies in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

HartRAO staff member Louis Barendse, a keen amateur astronomer, used his telescopic and photographic skills to capture the images below of the moon entering the eclipse.

The pictures start with the uneclipsed full moon at about 20h00 SAST. They show the encroaching shadow of the Earth through to about 21h30 when the Moon had nearly fully entered the umbra. The fourth and fifth images clearly show the curvature of the shadow of edge of the Earth. The curvature shows that the diameter of the Earth is much bigger than that of the Moon. The Earth's diameter is actually about 12800 km versus the Moon's 3500 km, a ratio of nearly 4 : 1.

The red colour of the Moon as it nears totality is due to the eclipsed surface of the Moon being lit by sunlight that has passed through the Earth's atmosphere. The light is red for the same reason as sunsets look red - more red light gets through the atmosphere than light at shorter (bluer) wavelengths.

Click on each image to see a large version.