Thursday, 16 June 2011

That Lunar Eclipse was Awesome!

The total lunar eclipse of 16/6/2011 was truly something to behold!

I will be posting some of my astronomical discoveries in the Nibiru-info blog, or this one, when the time comes. I might even abandon that blog, and just stick to this one, for the promulgation of some of my quaint ideas. lol.

Let's just say that @ ~80% eclipse coverage with the Earth's penumbra, through the telescope, the moon appears to have a mottled surface similar to the Sun. This is extraordinary. It was visible with the well-collimated 8" f/5 (what I call the 'Royal Observatory') @ 50x magnification.

This was one of the finest adventures ever! We had placed a nice banana lounge on the driveway, and rugged up nicely. I also dragged a small armchair onto the driveway and another fold up chair. In this position we reclined and watched the view. I was however, far too excited with events and had to keep rushing inside for drawing equipment. This eclipse would have to be documented. This (pencil and exercise book), is the way they did it for hundreds of years and remains, today, the most efficient form of recording information.

I recorded some amazing, (for me) details.

1) The moon looks JUST LIKE MARS when it is eclipsed. The maria are thus volcanic elevations, as they seem to be on the moon. In normal light they are well defined. In red light, they become VERY mysterious looking indeed. Their borders become more ill-defined. In fact the moon is a red-shifted version of Mars!

The naked-eye moon during eclipse looks just like Mars through a telescope!

2) I discovered something which may never have been noticed before. Between 90% and 70% eclipse, the Moon looked very much like the sun! I am saying that it seemed to exhibit a mottled texture unlike what I have seen before. I think the intense blue-laser light show which is normally put on by the moon tends to hide many aspects of the lunar surface. As evidence, I point out the fact that the moon looks like a ball when eclipsed and looks totally flat when normally full.

3) Just before eclipse the moon was as full as it possibly can be in normal sunlight. It was ellipsoid ! It is not round at all, but shaped slightly like an asteroid!

4 ) There appear to be some very strange white lines on the moon. These are known as 'Lunar Rays' and they emanate from craters.

Lunar rays from the crater of Tycho:

These lunar rays still look very bright when the moon is eclipsed, but there are a lot more of them. These rays are very controversial. The explanation in 'A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy' (p. 108), which, 30 years on, is the book to turn any serious amateur into a professional, claims that the best explanation is that they are cracks in the crust which have been caused by the impact. These cracks have then been filled with pure lunar dust to a depth of several miles. Without knowing this, my brother suggested they must be rivers, perhaps leading into the crater, which is an obvious depression. Who knows. Anyway, they seem to become a lot more prominent during the eclipse. What was apparent during observation was that there are white cracks between non-maria darker sections. These cracks do not seem to be apparent when the moon is its regular self. During an eclipse however, the cracks seem to come out.

Anyway, the moon went down, as it got closer to the horizon it reached a pseudo-diamond ring effect. That is to say the Earth's umbra was in the center of the moon, making the eclipse really total. The exploding volcano in Chilli however has kicked a huge amount of dust into the atmosphere, so this has hindered seeing. We then moved onto the planets. My mother saw Mercury through the telescope for the first time! This excited her tremendously as she had never seen it before. The current astrological time has most of the planets lined up together on the far side of the solar system, nicely visible just before sunrise. First to rise was Jupiter around 3AM, later Mars, (Which I had not seen in years). (It was so tiny!). Next came Venus and then we spotted a nice Mercury a few degrees to the right. If you are curious, Mercury is very tiny. It looked like a warping multicolored disco ball  - ie: we didn't really have that good a view of it. The rising Sun ruins the atmosphere and the very low angle of elevation makes things even worse!


P. Clay Sherrod, A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy - tools and techniques for Astronomical Observatories, New Jersey 1981.

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