~ Total Lunar Eclipse Wednesday 31st January 2018 ~ by Noeleen Lowndes
This is the first total eclipse of the Moon for the year, and it’s fully visible across eastern Australia, especially here on the Gold Coast. It’s also special because this is the second full Moon for the Month of January with the last occurring on the 2nd January; this lunar event is now referred to as a Blue Moon.
This year is also quite rare as we have another blue Moon month in March, with a full Moon again on the 2nd and 31st of the month, which only occurs a couple of times a century, the last time this happened was in 2010.
For you to enjoy the event you’ll only need to have a clear north eastern horizon and by the time when the eclipse begins the Moon will be quite high up in the northern sky. You will not need any fancy equipment to thoroughly enjoy this wonderful astronomical event, you can simply view the eclipse with your eyes or better still use a pair of binoculars, if you have a telescope than that’s even better, but it’s not a necessity.
A lunar eclipse is completely safe to view, as it’s reflected sunlight off the surface of the Moon, unlike a solar eclipse, which is very dangerous to look at with your eyes without proper solar glasses or filters.
The whole event moves quite slowly and this eclipse lasts from beginning to end just over 5 hours…so you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the wonderful spectacle.
The beginning of the eclipse (penumbral) begins at 8.50pm and by 9.50pm you’ll really start to see the eclipsed Moon moving into the Earths shadow. By 10.50pm the Moon will be fully eclipsed with greatest eclipse being at 11.30pm where you will see the darkest reddish hue, total eclipse ends at 12.08pm. After that, it takes another 2 hours for the Moon to move away from the Earths shadow, and by 2.15am a beautiful silvery full Moon will be back in our night sky. (Please see all the times below)
Penumbral eclipse begins (P1) 8:50pm
Partial eclipse begins (U1) 9:48pm
Total eclipse begins (U2) 10:51pm
Greatest eclipse (Totality) 11.30pm
Total eclipse Ends (U3) 12:08pm
Partial eclipse ends (U4) 01:12pm
Penumbral eclipse ends (P4) 02:10am
If your taking images, you can use your longest telephoto lens (200-300mm) with your camera on a tripod,
and use a cable release so you don’t touch the camera, also remember to manual focus.
You’ll only need to take short exposures when the Moon is very bright in the early partial stages, but at full eclipse be prepared to take exposures for a few seconds, as there’s very little light on the surface of the Moon.
Please see some camera settings from previous lunar eclipse on my website at:
All lunar eclipses are different, it all depends how much dust, smoke or moisture is in the atmosphere that determines how dark or light the eclipsed Moon will look. The only reason we are seeing the Moon at all is because the Suns light is being refracted through the Earths atmosphere and shining onto the surface of the Moon while it's orbiting through the Earths shadow.
Have fun and enjoy the lunar eclipse :-)