Experience An Easter Total Lunar Eclipse treat

Total Lunar Eclipse 
Saturday 4 April 2015, 9pm – midnight.




Download this Fact Sheet for details about timing: April 2015 Total Lunar Eclipse Fact Sheet

Lunar Eclipse photo by Geoff Wyatt, 8 October 2014

Lunar Eclipse Live 
Sydney Observatory is well placed to view the April lunar eclipse which appears in our north-eastern sky. Sydney Observatory will be live streaming the total Lunar Eclipse. Dr Andrew Jacob, curator of astronomy , will be at Sydney Observatory directing the live feed from 9pm to 11:30pm local time (10-12:30 UT) from our 16-inch north-dome telescope. Here is your YouTube link. Whilst waiting for the eclipse you can hear Astronomy guide, Brenan Dew, explain the Lunar Eclipse and Aboriginal Astronomer, Willy Stevens, discuss how his people explained Moon phenomenon.

Total Lunar Eclipse Event
Saturday 4 April
9pm – midnight

If you have booked and want to cancel please email sydneyobservatory@maas.museum before the event starts.

We are running an event on-site which focuses on telescope viewing of the eclipse and information sessions. Snacks, tea, coffee and hot chocolate available on site. Because it is a late night this is suggested for ages 15 and over. Cost: $59 family, $22 adult, $15 child; members $48 family $18 adult $12 child. Concessions $18. Bookings and pre-payments are essential. BOOK ONLINE NOW! For enquiries please call 9921 3485.

Media Enquiries only please call 9921 3485/ 9921 3484 or 0411137102.

Even if you can’t visit Sydney Observatory during the Total Lunar eclipse keep in touch and lets us know about your eclipse experience via Sydney Observatory Facebook or @sydneyobs Twitter.

Melissa Hulbert, Sydney Observatory, took this image of Moon in eclipse showing the spectacular red colour.


The full Moon reddened during the total lunar eclipse of October 8 2014. Image copyright Geoff Wyatt.
The full Moon reddened during the total lunar eclipse of October 8 2014. Image copyright Geoff Wyatt.
Lunar eclipse 28 August 2007, photos by Geoffrey Wyatt
Lunar eclipse 28 August 2007, photos and animation by Geoffrey Wyatt

Total lunar eclipses
Dr Nick Lomb, Sydney Observatory’s consultant astronomer and curator, and Sarah Reeves, astronomy guide, provided the following helpful explanation. On average there is an eclipse of the Moon every eight months, with a little under half of these total. The actual number of lunar eclipses in a year can range from none to a maximum of three. A total eclipse of the Moon is visible from Australia on average every 2.8 years. In Australia, a total lunar eclipse will occur on 4 April 2015. In parts of the Northern Hemisphere there will also be a total lunar eclipse on 27 September 2015.

Why the Moon is red during a total eclipse
The Moon will appear red during totality because red light from the Sun is bent by the Earth’s atmosphere onto the Moon. The light is red as other colours such as blue are scattered in all directions leaving red, just as at sunset. Another way of putting it is that seen from the Moon the Earth is dark, but surrounded by an atmosphere lit up by either by sunset or dawn. Whether the Moon will go red and how dark a red depends on atmospheric conditions at the time of the eclipse. This post about the 2007 total lunar eclipse will give you some idea of what we can hope to see on the night.

How do eclipses occur?
Eclipses of the Moon occur when the Moon moves into the shadow of the Earth. There are three kinds of lunar eclipse – penumbral, partial and total. Penumbral eclipses occur when the Moon falls in Earth’s penumbra (the fainter part of our shadow). A partial eclipse occurs when a portion of the Moon is covered by the Earth’s umbra (the darkest part of our shadow), and a total eclipse occurs when the entire Moon is inside the Earth’s umbra. When the Moon is fully immersed in the dark part of the shadow we see a total eclipse of the Moon. At such times the eclipsed Moon usually takes on a dark reddish colour from the light bent or refracted onto the Moon by the Earth’s atmosphere. When the Moon is only partially immersed in the dark part of the shadow we have a partial eclipse.

Eclipse basics

How eclipses of both the Sun and Moon occur. Sketch Nick Lomb

An eclipse of the Moon can only happen at full Moon phase. It does not happen every month as the path the Moon takes around the Earth is tilted by about 5° to the path the Earth takes around the Sun. Hence at full Moon the Earth’s shadow usually falls below or above the Moon.

What is the history of Moon eclipses?
Eclipses of the Moon first provided proof that the Earth is a globe as the edge of the Earth’s shadow moving across the Moon is always part of a circle. This was noticed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle who lived in the fourth century before our era. According to ancient Chinese legend an eclipse of the Moon occurs when a dragon begins eating the Moon. Hence the tradition in China during eclipses was to make as much noise as possible by banging on drums and pots to scare away the dragon. This technique has so far succeeded on each occasion.

Viewing a lunar eclipse

Unlike solar eclipses, a lunar eclipse can be seen from anywhere that is experiencing nighttime when the eclipse occurs. Lunar eclipses are also safe to view with no special eye protection, and fun to photograph. For those who missed last October’s event, you won’t have to wait too long – the next total lunar eclipse is due to occur on 4 April 2015.

Check out our free monthly sky guides including podcast, sky map and transcription, giving you a guide to highlights in the night sky for each month of the year.

Check out also our free Moon phase calendar.

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