Syzygy — my new favorite word

Syzygy – the exact alignment of sun, earth, and moon with the earth in the middle so that the moon is caught completely in the earth’s shadow.

Almost complete lunar eclipse -- as full as I saw it in east-central Minnesota

Almost complete lunar eclipse — as full as I saw it in east-central Minnesota.  There was so little light coming from the moon, and so much light coming from street and house lights around me, it made it very difficult to get good focus on the moon.  This was a 3.5 second exposure — so there might have been some lunar movement that made the image fuzzy as well.

LunarEclipse-model

This diagram from The Hudson Valley Geologist blog shows the exact positioning necessary to create a full shadow of the earth on the moon.  

The transit of the moon through the full umbra shadow took almost an hour last night, while the partial shadow cast while the moon moved through the penumbra happened relatively quickly.

lunar eclipse-penumbra shadow-

The view before full lunar eclipse. The earth’s shadow moved from left to right across the face of the full moon.

lunar eclipse-penumbra shadow-

After full eclipse, the moon’s full brightness returned left to right. An hour and a half elapsed between the before- and after-full eclipse photos.

Why a blood red moon during the lunar eclipse?  The Hudson Valley Geologist explains that short (especially blue) wavelengths of light are scattered by the earth’s atmosphere, leaving the longer, orange and red wavelengths to be bent and focused on the moon.

I hope you all got a chance to see this somewhat rare event — another lunar eclipse of a super moon (at its closest distance to the earth in its orbit) won’t happen again until 2033.

2 thoughts on “Syzygy — my new favorite word

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