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June 15, 2011

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Cloud set to eclipse red moon

SHANGHAI residents are almost certain to miss tonight's red moon, as the year's first lunar eclipse is set to be hidden by rain clouds over the city.

The eclipse, which takes place in the early hours of the morning, will be the longest eclipse in the past 11 years, experts said.

But weather forecasters said it is expected to rain heavily until tomorrow, due to the northward movement of a rain belt during the current plum rain season.

Kong Chunyan, chief service officer of Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said moon-watchers shouldn't get their hopes up. "The weather conditions are not good for lunar eclipse observation," she admitted.

But to make up for the disappointment, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory's Sheshan station is linking up with Qingdao Observatory in Shandong Province to show a live broadcast of the lunar eclipse on its website at

"We feel sorry for local people missing seeing the eclipse with their own eyes due to the weather," said Tang Haiming, a Sheshan station official.

Weather permitting, the eclipse will be visible over Europe, south America, Africa and most of Asia. In China, the best views will be in the west.

The eclipse starts at 2:23am and ends at 6:03am.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon.

The moon is still visible because residual light is deflected towards it by the atmosphere. As most of this refracted light is in the red part of the spectrum, the moon is observed as red.

The next total lunar eclipse local residents may be able to see is on October 8, 2014 - cloud permitting.


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