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Total Lunar Eclipse: December 10, 2011

Geographic Region: Europe, eastern Africa, Asia, Australia, Pacific Ocean, North America

The last eclipse of 2011 is a total lunar eclipse that takes place at the Moon's descending node in eastern Taurus, four days after apogee.

The Moon's orbital trajectory takes it through the southern half of Earth's umbral shadow. Although the eclipse is not central, the total phase still lasts 51 minutes. The timings of the major eclipse phases are listed below.

 

Penumbral Eclipse Begins:   11:33:32 UT
Partial Eclipse Begins:   12:45:42 UT
Total Eclipse Begins:   14:06:16 UT
Greatest Eclipse:   14:31:49 UT
Total Eclipse Ends:   14:57:24 UT
Partial Eclipse Ends:   16:17:58 UT
Penumbral Eclipse Ends:   17:30:00 UT

 

At the instant of greatest eclipse (14:32 UT) the Moon lies at the zenith in the Pacific Ocean near Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. The umbral eclipse magnitude peaks at 1.1061 as the Moon's centre passes 21.4 arc-minutes south of the shadow axis. The Moon's northern limb is then 6.4 arc-minutes south of the shadows axis and 33.3 arc-minutes from the umbra's edge. In contrast, the Moon's southern limb lays 36.5 arc-minutes from the shadow centre and 3.2 arc-minutes from the southern edge of the umbra. Thus, the northern half of the Moon will appear much darker than the southern half because it lies deeper in the umbra. Since the Moon samples a large range of umbral depths during totality, its appearance will change dramatically with time.

During totality, the winter constellations are well placed for viewing so a number of bright stars can be used for magnitude comparisons. Aldebaran (mv = +0.87) is 9° to the southwest of the eclipsed Moon, while Betelgeuse (mv = +0.45) is 19° to the southeast, Pollux (mv = +1.16) is 37° east, and Capella (mv = +0.08) is 24° north.

The entire event is visible from Asia and Australia. For North Americans, the eclipse is in progress as the Moon sets with western observers favored by a larger fraction of the eclipse before moonset. Observers throughout Europe and Africa will miss the early eclipse phases because they occur before moonrise. None of the eclipse can be seen from South America or Antarctica.

The December 10 total lunar eclipse is the 23rd member of Saros 135, a series of 71 eclipses occurring in the following order: 9 penumbral, 10 partial, 23 total, 7 partial, and 22 penumbral lunar eclipses.

 

Eclipse map and predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.
For more information on solar and lunar eclipses, see Fred Espenak's Eclipse Home Page:

http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html

 

 

 

Links

 
Lunar Eclipses for Students and Beginners!
 
 
 
 

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