The "Sofi1999" follows the "Mofi2000": In the night from Thursday to Friday, the first total lunar eclipse of the new millennium occurs. Professional and amateur astronomers in Western Europe and both parts of America look forward to an impressive spectacle. If no clouds disturb the view, the lunar eclipse should be one of the brightest of the last ten years: even in the total phase, when the moon wanders through the Earth's shadow, light from the Earth's atmosphere is still filtered and scattered onto the Moon.

Most of the time, the terrestrial moon shines in different shades that lie somewhere between dark brown, brick red and sulfur yellow. Sometimes, however, greenish and bluish shades are also visible in the transitional area from the partial shadow (the penumbra) to the umbra (umbra).

The colors of a lunar eclipse can be useful to meteorologists because they give them information about the conditions in the atmosphere - on the one hand clouds and storms change the light, on the other dust particles that are expelled by volcanoes: In 1991 the Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines hurled so much Dust and aerosols into the air, that the Earth's atmosphere reflected a larger part of the sunlight directly into space.

The result: The moon was barely visible in the following years with total eclipses. Meanwhile, measurements have shown that the atmosphere has been cleared of volcanic dust since 1998. In addition, the moon is currently very close to the earth, so it appears relatively large in the sky. The play of light between the various areas of the shadow should therefore be clearly visible. display

"It's like seeing all the sunrises and sunsets in the world at the same time, " says Bradley Schaefer, an astronomer from Yale University. In contrast to a solar eclipse, there are no special precautions to be taken for a lunar eclipse: you can look at the moon without glasses or other aids and you do not have to visit a particularly dark place: even in the middle of a big city, the darkened moon may still be bright enough.

In Germany, the lunar eclipse is only for early birds: The total phase begins at 5:05 clock and ends at 6:22 clock. At this time, the moon is already quite deep, so that he should hover impressively large above the horizon by the well-known illusion. Overall, the darkness lasts from the entrance of the moon into the shadow of the core until it leaves three and a half hours. The final phase of the eclipse will no longer be visible from Europe, because the moon has already set. Even with a simple telescope, it should be possible to photograph the lunar eclipse. Tips can be found here.

Hobby stargazers should not miss out on the spectacle: the next total lunar eclipse visible from Europe will take another year - until January 9, 2001.

© science.de

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