Could the universe honour the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch in any better form, than a partial lunar eclipse?! “The moon is undoubtedly in the spotlight this year as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing. Already in the run-up to the 20./21. July 2019 was and is remembered in numerous events, in lectures, in films and texts to this historic event and that has revived the moon as a destination for future astronautical expeditions in many,” explains astronomer Dr. med. Manfred Gaida from the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Bonn.
And now in the late evening and night hours of July 16, the once launch day of the Apollo 11 mission, there is again a visible partial lunar eclipse. Unlike the last lunar eclipse on January 21, the International Space Station (ISS) will even be seen twice in the sky at the same time as the moon moves through the Earth’s shadow. Already get your cameras and telescopes ready for the spectacle!
When the moon steps into the shadows
As the moon rises partially darkened in this country and reaches a height of fewer than 20 degrees above the horizon during the eclipse even in Bavaria, he is due to the so-called lunar delusion, the viewer is likely to appear slightly larger than if it were higher in the sky. Responsible for this effect is an optical illusion. In Central Europe, we can look forward to a relatively good view, at least from the middle of the eclipse, when the earth companion is then partly in the shadow of the earth for one and a half hours and glows brownish to a coppery red. But what is the cause of this peculiar play of colours during a lunar eclipse?
Today it is known that the cause of the striking coloration of the moon, when it disappears in the core shadow, is that the long-wave red light of the sun’s rays in the terrestrial atmosphere is refracted and directed towards the surface of the earth-companion, while the short-wave blue light waves be completely scattered in the earth’s atmosphere in all directions. In addition, dust, ash and aerosols in the high atmosphere intensify the colouration, which turns almost every lunar eclipse into a spectacular event.
The course of the lunar eclipse on July 16, 2019
The Partial Shadow Eclipse begins at 20:42 pm Central European Summer Time (CEST). At this time, the full moon is still below the horizon and remains invisible. Only after around 45 minutes, at around 21:30 pm CEST, he goes up, but then in the near-horizon haze layers in the so-called bourgeois twilight will be difficult to make out. The term “bourgeois twilight” refers to the early phase of the day-night transition when the sun is just barely, that is, to a maximum of six degrees, below the horizon and reading outdoors is still possible.
Um 22:02 Uhr MESZ beginnt der Mond langsam in den Kernschatten der Erde einzutauchen – dann ist auch die bürgerliche Dämmerung zu Ende gegangen – und er steht jetzt von Hamburg bis zur Zugspitze nur wenige Grad über dem Horizont. Erst ab Mitte der Finsternis, ab 23:31 Uhr MESZ, hat er – je nach geographischer Breite des Standorts – eine akzeptable Höhe zwischen 8 und 15 Grad erreicht. Rund zwei Drittel des Vollmonddurchmessers befinden sich nun in der Kernschattenzone. Ab diesem Zeitpunkt wandert die partiell verfinsterte Mondscheibe nach und nach wieder aus dem Kernschatten heraus, bis sie sich um 1:00 Uhr MESZ des darauffolgenden Tages wieder völlig in der Halbschattenzone befindet. Nun dauert es noch gut eineinviertel Stunden, bis der Mond den Erdschatten ganz verlassen hat. In diesem Zeitraum ist die Höhe des Mondes über dem Horizont nahezu unverändert bei zirka 17 Grad, und er bleibt noch bis zum Ende der Nacht zu sehen.
Giant planet Jupiter and ring planet Saturn near the moon
Also during the darkness – assuming a good, free, near-horizon view – the two planets Jupiter and Saturn are to be seen as strikingly bright, calmly shining objects in the south. The slightly lighter Jupiter stands, referring to the exact south, “right” and the planet Saturn “left”. At the same time, the moon is only about five degrees east of the Ring Planet at the time of darkness. Closer to the moon is the dwarf planet Pluto. Due to its distance from the sun, however, it is so faint that one can at best find it photographically with the aid of a telescope. With a standard 10 × 50 binoculars, however, can already imagine the ring structure of Saturn.
Tips for observation
The observation conditions are in the whole of Germany, given a clear view, especially favourable for the second half of the eclipse. During the partial eclipse, the south is favoured a bit, because there the moon is about twice as high as in northern Germany above the horizon. In any case, it is necessary to look for a viewing place from which a clear view to the horizon without disturbing earthly light sources is possible to the southeast. Still more impressive is the observation with the help of binoculars or small telescopes. On the website Timeanddate.de, you can see the course and times of the lunar eclipse for each location. The next lunar eclipse, which is somewhat visible from Central Europe, will not occur until about three years, on May 16, 2022, between the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 16 and the Apollo 17 mission.
The ISS can also be seen
Shortly after 11:01 pm, the International Space Station ISS will appear about 10 degrees above the partially darkened moon as a strikingly bright spot in the sky. In doing so, it reaches a maximum height of around 25 degrees above the horizon, in relation to the centre of Germany. A second round starts at 0:37 am CEST. This time, the ISS will rise very high in the sky, pass close to the zenith and, as a result, be prominent and bright in the sky. The exact location-related times and other data can be found on the website Heavens above.
|Contact times in CEST||event|
|8:44 pm||Entry of the moon in the semi-shade|
|10:02 pm||Entry of the moon into the core shadow|
|11:31 pm||Middle of the darkness|
|1:00 am||Exit of the moon from the core shadow|
|2:18 am||Exit of the moon from the penumbra|
Source: www.eclipsewise.com / Titelbild Observatory Höchstberg