Long Lunar Eclipse + Opposition of Mars
This morning's total lunar eclipse as observed from Sydney, Australia, was a rare and spectacular event. Like many other keen Sydney City Skywatcher observers I found a suitable location with a clear view to the west. Rain had been predicted but 24 hours prior the forecast had improved. I was anxious because the previous lunar eclipse 31 January 2018 had been almost totally clouded out in Sydney. My fears were unfounded and the weather lasted through to totality. On this page are photographs by Sydney City Skywatcher members Adriano Massatani, Ann Cairns and myself, Toner Stevenson taken from three different Sydney locations.
The Earth's shadow was cast onto the Moon from 4:24am, and by 5am there was a sizeable bite out of the Moon's disc and at approximately 5:15am a reddish tinge was evident in the shadow. As predicted totality occurred at exactly 5:30am and the Moon became darker red as it was in complete shadow. Mars was very bright.
This Lunar eclipse was special, not only because it is the longest eclipse of the century, but also because there was also an opposition of Mars, meaning that the planets Mars and Earth are in a straight line with the Sun in that order. According to Dr. Andrew Jacob, astronomer at Sydney Observatory, the last time a total Lunar eclipse, and a planetary opposition, was in the year 792. Mars is also at its closest since 2003.
At around 6:15am the clouds came in and the moon skipped in and out of visibility until it was completely covered. Only Mars remained visible as night became day as you can see in the photograph below from North Head.
Adriano Massatani, Ann Cairns and Toner Stevenson have provided images for the blog post.
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