A total lunar eclipse accompanied by a rare blocking of Uranus and two meteor showers are just some of the cosmic wonders expected to be visible from Taiwan this year, the Taipei Astronomical Museum has said.
Weather permitting, observation conditions for the Nov. 8 eclipse should be excellent, with astronomy buffs able to catch the entire process in which the moon turns blood-red at one point, the museum said.
The eclipse is to take place soon after the moon rises at 5:02pm and last until 8:49pm, it said, adding that the full moon should have a copper hue when it becomes completely obscured by the Earth’s shadow from 6:16pm to 7:42pm.
Photo courtesy of the Taipei Astronomical Museum via CNA
In a total lunar eclipse, the Earth is positioned between the sun and the moon, blocking sunlight from what would otherwise be a radiant full moon.
However, the moon does not completely disappear in a total lunar eclipse because sunlight is refracted into the shadow cone by the Earth’s atmosphere.
This year’s lunar eclipse is more special because the moon is to pass in front of Uranus, a phenomenon known as “occultation,” the museum said.
The rare sight, which can be seen through binoculars, is to take place from 7:05pm to 7:53pm.
The last time a total lunar eclipse coinciding with any kind of occultation of planets visible from Taiwan was before astronomical records began in the 17th century, the museum said.
For shooting-star chasers, the Eta Aquarids on May 6 and the Geminids on Dec. 14 are sure to be special, it said.
Up to 50 Eta Aquarids per hour could flash through a radiant northern sky, the museum said, adding that observational conditions would be best after midnight due to less interference from the moon.
The Eta Aquarids, known for their brightness and speed, happen when the Earth encounters debris from Halley’s Comet.
With the passing of the Geminids — one of the three most abundant meteor showers of the year, along with the Quadrantids in January and the Perseids in August — about 150 shooting stars per hour are estimated before midnight, the museum said.
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