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December 9, 2011

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Saturday eclipse looks like winner

SHANGHAI residents will be treated to a rare red moon tomorrow night in what's likely to be the best view of a total lunar eclipse in the city in 10 years.

The eclipse, best viewed with just the eyes, will begin about 7:30pm and end six hours later at 1:30am on Sunday (as illustrated at top).

The weather forecast calls for some clouds on Saturday night, but because the eclipse will last for six hours, people should catch views, Tang Haiming, an official with the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, said yesterday.

"If you can see the moon, you don't need a telescope to watch the whole process of the lunar eclipse," said Tang.

The moon will go into full eclipse at 10:06pm and start to emerge again at 10:57pm, a totality lasting 51 minutes.

Passengers on 125 flights leaving or coming to Shanghai during the eclipse will be able to see it from the air. Fifty-six planes will fly over Shanghai during the best viewing time, when the moon is totally eclipsed and looks red. People will have a better view on the planes because they are above the clouds, but their time is also short, Tang said.

Residents will be able to take pictures of the "red moon" only with a tripod and a telephoto lens, he said.

The eclipse can be seen from all over China, said Zhao Zhiheng, a Chinese astronomical educator. But people in the United States will miss it because it will be daytime, while those in Europe will miss the beginning part of the eclipse, Zhao said.

Shanghai residents were last able to see a full lunar eclipse on January 10, 2001. The next total lunar eclipse won't come until 2018. Local residents missed a full lunar eclipse earlier this year, on June 15, as it was hidden by rain clouds over the city.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up precisely, with the Earth casting a shadow on the moon. The moon is still visible because residual light is deflected toward it by the atmosphere.

As most of this refracted light is in the red part of the spectrum, the moon is seen with a kind of red glow.


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