Red moon in the darkness

On Wednesday, 15th June 2011 (or Thursday 16th June for certain time zones) is full moon and a total lunar eclipse at the same time. However, it will only be completely visible in the Near and Middle East. In Asia and Australia, the moon will be already set and in Europe and Africa, the moon will be just rising by the time the lunar eclipse takes place. In America, this event won’t be visible at all.

What happens during a lunar eclipse? The Moon moves through the shadow that Earth – being illuminated by the Sun – casts onto the Moon and therefore appears darkened to an observer from Earth, for a duration of one to two hours. The requirement for the visibility of the lunar eclipse is, next to the cloudless sky, the observer has to be located on the dark side of the globe and the Moon has to have risen and consequently be above the horizon.

A lunar eclipse always takes place at full moon, because the constellation of the Sun > Earth > Moon is also responsible for the full moon. The Moon is additionally on the ecliptic of the Earth in the case of a lunar eclipse.

Differently, as with the solar eclipse, where the Sun turns black, is the Moon during the lunar eclipse as it takes on a copper red colour. This is caused by the refraction of the sun rays in the Earth’s atmosphere. You could possibly compare it with the reddish light of a sunrise or sunset on Earth. This reddish light is the reason for the red surface of the Moon during the lunar eclipse.

Although the scholars of antiquity, like Aristotle, had already recognised what was happening in the sky during a solar or lunar eclipse, these events have been misconstrued as a bad omen in different cultures for many centuries. The darkening of light was interpreted as the symbol of the superior power of the dark and evil forces over the light and the good. This evoked fear and led to various rituals and measures that were taken. For example, the Easter date in the Christian ecclesiastical year, has been defined, so that no solar or lunar eclipse can take place on Good Friday.

Fortunately, today we know the meaning of the astronomic events and are able to face them without projections.

We have compiled further information and all the dates:
Lunar eclipse on 15th/16th June 2011

Column: Worth reading, Worth seeing | 15 comments | Leave a comment
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  • After many years of taking a walk on the full moon sometimes up to 6 hour we have noticed that the weather will hold clear and clemant up to the time of the full moon. Usually one day past a full moon you can forget it the clouds will open and the winds will howl. I was sitting with a group of friends on Friday last the day of a full moon. Two others in that group had made the same observation – good weather right up to full moon then a decline. Others iun the group had never noticed and some did not know where the moon was anyway. My question is: Do different parts of the world have calm weather on a full moon and if that is possible how can it be that it’s not common knowledge?

  • I was in Bulgaria at the time of this lunar eclipse. It was amazing, this is the first time I’ve ever seen this. I was not aware of the eclipse, until I was walking outside late that night, and noticed that a chunk was missing from the moon. This was strange, since there was supposed to be a full moon that evening. After a few minutes I realized what was going on – it had to be the shadow of the earth blocking the light from the sun. I walked down to the beach to observe the rest of the happening. It was truly amazing. The moon seemed to glow like a dimmed red or dark orange light-bulb, and I can imagine that Mars could look like this. The energy-level at the hotel was low that night, not what I would expect at a full moon. I felt calm, awake, but not energized like I normally am at full moon.

  • Very sorry, no decent photos, it was cloudy in the Maldives.

  • My friend works in the Maldives, I am hoping that he will get a good view of the eclipse and be able to send me some photos. Am I correct?

    • Yes, the Maldives have the time zone MVT (UTC +5), the lunar eclipse will be on Thursday, 16th June 2011, 01:12:37 am, local time with probably very good conditions to see the eclipse in all its beauty! We would be glad to see some of these photos, too!

      • Thanks for such a quick reply, I hope to get to see some wonderful photos as well, if I do I’ll certainly pass them on to you! His island runs an hour ahead of standard Maldivian time, so he should see it an hour earlier at about 00.12 am.
        Love your site and the full moon ecards!

  • The shadow of the Earth is always there on the side away from the Sun, extending out into space from our night-side, like a tunnel or tube of darker area – sometimes it’s actually visible during an eclipse

  • That sucks, i would have really looked forward to seeing this. But oh well, how many years would it be until the next Lunar Eclipse?

    • The next total eclipse will be on 10th December 2011. Again here, you may have issues with visibility as it takes place during the daytime. However, your next hot spot will be 14th/15th April 2014. This will be the next total lunar eclipse that is visible in America.

  • Wow! I never knew most of this information. I really like the layout of this website and I will pass it on to my friends at school. Thank you. Do you happen to know when the first lunar eclipse was recorded or written down by someone?

    • This is a good question, indeed! Possibly, this might have been one of these old guys like Aristotle. We will find out and report!

  • why wont we be able to seee it in america?

    • Because the lunar eclipse is already over by the time the Moon rises at the eastern coast of the Americas.

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