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Some rare lunacy ...

Total Lunar Eclipse, visible throughout New Zealand.
0102-0249 HRS, MON 17 JULY.

16 Jul 2000

The South Island is the place to be for the best view of tomorrow's total lunar eclipse - due to cloud forcasts for much of the North Island, including Wellington.

The moon will enter the faint outer (penumbral) shadow of the Earth at 10.47pm (Sunday), however it will be approximately 30 minutes later before the moon starts to take on a visibly grey look.

The partial phase of the eclipse will start at 11.57pm on Sunday, when the moon enters the dark inner (umbral) shadow, causing a deep-red darkening to creep across the moon.

The moon will be fully eclipsed between 1.02am and 2:49, with the maximum eclipse occuring at 1.56am. By 5.04am the moon will have completely left the earth's shadow.

The impressive part of a Lunar Eclipse is the rich reddy colour of the Moon, caused by the Earth's dusty atmosphere scattering red light onto the Lunar surface. In a Lunar eclipse the shadow of the Earth on the Moon is never a distinct clear-cut line, as the Earth's atmosphere scatters the light around its edges.

The next total lunar eclipse visible from New Zealand occurs on Tuesday, 28th August, 2007.

Even if you don't see the eclipse, at least you can fool anyone by running off the facts above ...

(Info from Carter Observatory)