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Lunar eclipse. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai

Perfect view of the lunar eclipse

20 days ago
Written by Ronald Toppe
Ocean education > Perfect view of the lunar eclipse

Perfect view of the lunar eclipse

20 days agoOcean education
Written by Ronald Toppe
Lunar eclipse. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai

The night of Friday 19 November 2021, Statsraad Lehmkuhl was the perfect place to watch a special celestial phenomenon, a lunar eclipse.

The sky was clear, and out on the Caribbean Sea light from buildings and roads does not cast a dull veil over the sky. The full moon was a perfect circle, shining through masts and rigging.

Almost total

Here in Norway it was morning and beginning daylight when the partial shadow of the earth touched the edge of the moon. On board the ship it was 1:20 am and pitch dark. At this time the moon had gradually become a little darker for an hour and a half, but now the full shadow of the earth could be seen. The full moon was no longer spherical.

A lunar eclipse. Image: Based on Wikipedia
A lunar eclipse. Image: Based on Wikipedia

The shadow expanded inward, and at 4 am it covered 99.1 percent of the moon. The eclipse was almost total, and the longest partial eclipse since the 15th century.

Red

Lunar eclipses occur only during a full moon. Then the sun, earth and moon are in line, and the entire lunar disk is lit up. But then, sometimes, for a few hours, the moon slides into the shadow of the earth.

Turned red. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai
Turned red. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai

The photo Jesper Rosenmai took from the Statsraad Lehmkuhl show that the moon did not turn black inside the shadow. The thin layer of atmosphere around our globe refracts light, and the red part of the light still hits the moon.

This is the same thing that happens in the morning and in the evening here on earth. The moon is coloured by all the sunrises and sunsets on earth, at the same time.

The moon does not get the same color every time there is an eclipse, how much of the earth's shadow that hits, and the conditions in our atmosphere determine.

The moon turned red. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai
The moon turned red. Photo: Jesper Rosenmai

Again in May

Lunar eclipses are not very rare.

The next one takes place on 16 May 2022, and then the eclipse will be total. It occurs when it is night east in the Pacific Ocean, so Statsraad Lehmkuhl gets a perfect view again: The ship is then in the Pacific, on its way from Chile to Tahiti.

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