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Eclipse of the Moon

MEDIA RELEASE
9th June 2010
Partial Lunar Eclipse on Saturday 26th June 2010


Eclipse of the Moon


New Zealanders will get the rare opportunity to observe a partial lunar eclipse in their skies on Saturday the 26th of June.

The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye, but the Stardome Observatory in Auckland is encouraging amateur star gazers to gather and view the event at their One Tree Hill location. The Stardome will be providing special shows for the public that night explaining how eclipses happen. Weather permitting, these shows will include complimentary viewing of the eclipse from telescopes set up outside.

Best viewing of the eclipse takes place between 10:30pm and 12:30am, with mid eclipse occurring at 11:38pm. The Moon will be partially obscured by the shadow of the Earth, as our home planet passes between the Sun and the Moon.

The last lunar eclipse was a partial one on the 31st of December 2009, but this was not visible over New Zealand. The next eclipse is a full one on the 21st of December this year when the northern part of New Zealand only will get to see it rise in eclipse. That’s a long time to wait though, so make sure you see the partial eclipse this month.

Stardome astronomer Grant Christie says, “New Zealand is very well placed to see this partial eclipse of the Moon. We expect it to be of interest to a wide range of astronomers as well as the general public.”

Eclipses of the moon are fun and interesting to watch. In antiquity they were used by the Greeks to prove that the Earth was round (from the shape of the shadow) and to estimate the relative size of the Earth and Moon as shown by the relative diameters of the Moon and the Earth's shadow cast on the Moon.

All parts of New Zealand will be able to see the partial lunar eclipse on the 26th of June. The full Moon will enter the outer shadow (penumbra) at 8.55pm but little change will be seen until in enters the deeper central shadow (umbra) at 10.17pm. For this eclipse, the Moon only grazes the umbral shadow and at maximum only 50% of the lunar disk will be covered. Mid eclipse occurs at 11.38pm, the Moon leaves the umbra at 1.00am and finally the penumbra at 2:21am.

The special eclipse shows in the Stardome Planetarium on Saturday the 26th of June will cost just $10, and screen at 9pm, 9:30pm, 10pm and 10:30pm. For bookings and information phone 09 624 1246 or visit www.stardome.org.nz.


ends

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