Last post I wrote about the trilogy of sequences for the three different kinds of eclipses I completed. This time I write about a trilogy of lunar eclipses. We have had 3 total lunar eclipses in the past 12 months. You might think well, if you have seen one, you’ve seen them all, but that’s not quite true. Read on if you want to know why.
The first of the series was on October 8 2014. This particular eclipse was very interesting for observers as the planet Uranus was located about half a degree form the totally eclipsed moon. Not only was it much easier to find with a pair of binoculars, it also resulted in a very nice photograph. You can see the blue color of the planet clearly in the little dot next to the moon.
The second in the series was on April 4 2015. This one was very special as it was the shortest total lunar eclipse in a century or so. The total phase only lasted about 5 minutes. That time scale is more like a total solar eclipse where the totality only last minutes. During a normal lunar eclipse the moon will be totally eclipsed for about an hour. In this eclipse sequence picture you can see that even during the totality one side of the limb of the moon is brighter than the rest of the limb. That’s because the moon passes so close to the edge of the earth’s shadow that it hardly looks like it is totally eclipsed at all. Of course I was very excited with this result of a lunar eclipse where the moon was setting over the San Francisco skyline.
The third in the series on Sept 27 2015 (PST, the eclipse was on the 28th in UT). This one was very special as it occurred at perigee. Perigee is when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit. At perigee the moon is 14% closer to the earth than at apogee (farthest away from the earth), and about 30% brighter. A full moon at perigee is called supermoon in the media. That is not a rare phenomenon, but a total lunar eclipse at the same time is. The last total lunar eclipse during a supermoon was 32 years ago and the next one is in 18 years. I’m pretty sure the lunar eclipse with Uranus at half a degree and the 5 min totality eclipse are more rare, but that won’t get most people excited. And that’s what matters. A lot of people went out to see the superbloodmoon. In San Francisco we had a superbloodmoonrise. Unfortunately low clouds obstructed the moonrise, but once it got above the clouds we had a great view. Another lunar eclipse picture with a San Francisco landmark in the collection.
I hope you like this trilogy as much as I do.