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Partial Lunar Eclipse to Occur on August 16, 2008

Eclipse enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that a partial lunar eclipse will occur on August 16, 2008, where more than three quarters of the moon will be covered by the Earth’s umbra. This eclipse follows the solar eclipse on August 1, 2008.

Lunar Eclipse

This illustration is not to scale and shows a general lunar eclipse, not the partial lunar eclipse on August 16, 2008.

Eclipse Visibility

The lunar eclipse will be visible mainly from the eastern hemisphere and the eastern part of South America. It is most visible in eastern parts of Europe, western parts of Asia, and most of Africa. The most western part of Europe and Africa, as well as South America, will see the moon rise already in partial eclipse, while observers in Australia and New Zealand will watch the moon set still shaded by the Earth’s shadow. In most of North America, the moon will exit the shadow before or at moonrise, likely producing no observable effect.

Eclipse Timing

The first penumbral contact (beginning of a partial eclipse) starts at about 18:24* Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). The partial eclipse begins at 19:36 (UTC) and the maximum eclipse occurs when the umbral immersion reaches about 0.813 magnitude at about 21:10 (UTC). The partial eclipse ends at 22:44 (UTC), and the penumbral eclipse ends at 23:55.

The next eclipse will be an annular solar eclipse on January 26, 2009, followed by a penumbral lunar eclipse on February 9, 2009.

A View of the Eclipse

Those hoping to see the partial lunar eclipse can expect to see a cusp extension, which are bright elongations created by the Earth’s shadow, giving a flattened appearance over the central portion of the lunar disk and curving off near the lunar limb. One cusp extension will appear more prominent than the other. Another feature is the shadow’s color. Many observers look at the shadow during the partial phases and usually it appears as either dark brown, dark gray or black. The umbra’s leading and trailing edges are frequently characterized as coppery red, although some eclipses have had a distinct blue or green fringe.

A popular activity during a partial lunar eclipse viewing is to videotape the eclipse through a telescope. However, others may prefer a lightweight camcorder for later analysis.


*Disclaimer: Some sources, such as NASA, say that the first penumbral contact is at 18:24 (UTC) on August 16, 2008, while others say that it is at 18:23 (UTC).

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