Scientists and observers both celebrated the ‘new moon’ solar eclipse

The first of two rare partial lunar eclipses that brought “new moon” (and a chance to watch its shadow cast across the Earth’s surface) was a total eclipse. But nature and chance conspired to…

Scientists and observers both celebrated the ‘new moon’ solar eclipse

The first of two rare partial lunar eclipses that brought “new moon” (and a chance to watch its shadow cast across the Earth’s surface) was a total eclipse. But nature and chance conspired to bring the second partial eclipse earlier this week. The total lunar eclipse had begun by Monday morning, but the partial eclipse had begun a day earlier, on Tuesday. Not too many were watching, so when the total eclipse ended on Tuesday night, and the angle of the Earth and sun became less the eclipsed moon’s shadow, it was time for the partial eclipse to start again.

“The eclipse started at 0:42AM EDT and came to an end at 5:50AM EDT,” said Carol Olson, lead author of the “a detailed map and with excellent 3D” of the total lunar eclipse posted on the website of Sky and Telescope magazine, according to which the partial eclipse was the longest in 580 years. That still left the half-hour window for totality, though; watching totality was best for the middle of the morning, before sunrise, and before temperatures had risen too high. Observers without telescopes or binoculars could see it without even binoculars by glancing up through an east-facing window or the blossom of a trees or, if they have lights but could somehow adapt to a less harsh light, another lamp.

Not everyone was disappointed, Olson said. At first, she said, it was difficult to tell the difference between totality and a partial eclipse. But with the moon getting lower in the sky, during the partial eclipse, there were fewer objects blocked in this way. Stagnant water, then, was easier to see; water was the kind of thing that humans could and should celebrate. Olson said her nephew in Riverside had a special party planned on Tuesday night, with a surprise performance by the Barry Manilow Orchestra, though, possibly due to some calamity, the performance was postponed.

Along with observing the partial eclipse’s totality, its total moon phase may have been the best time, said Geoff Chester, spokesperson for the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. But visibility was so dim that one experienced partial eclipsewoman, at the Times Square observatory, swam nearby, as clouds that were earlier in the evening flying through her home in Pennsylvania were so thick she couldn’t see them.

The second partial eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse on June 25, the last one until April 14, 2027. The first, on the other hand, on Tuesday is a total eclipse of the sun, set to happen on June 11, but the partial eclipse will have lasted too long for an eclipse to happen on that date; next week will see one only in July. The Perseid meteor shower, however, begins on July 11, and the best viewing will be during the daytime, because Mercury will be visible.

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