Astronomy

Lunar Eclipse Expected August 2007



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I See A Blood Moon Rising

The Australian eastern seaboard was treated to one of those rare celestial treats - a total lunar eclipse. At around 8:37pm on Wednesday, 22nd August 2007, the moon moved completely into the earth's shadow and we saw it as a glowing red disc, a blood moon, much the same way that I've always pictured Mars.

I don't know if this kind of phenomenon is what John Fogerty was singing about when he penned the classic "Bad Moon Rising" for Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969 (in case you haven't worked out where I pilfered the title from). Possibly. I was a wee lad when the Apollo 11 moon landing occurred, coincidentally enough in 1969 also, and perhaps there is a link. The Apollo missions certainly fuelled our collective obsession with our close companion and I wouldn't be surprised if that was the inspiration behind Fogerty's words.

A full moon is an impressive sight on a clear night and the lunar eclipse doubly so. It would a worthy harbinger of apocalyptic weather events and natural disasters. Perhaps a biblical plague or two (might fall under the ninth one - darkness). The full moon has also long been associated with madness and strange behaviour and I wonder what the ancients would have taken from a red one.

In folklore, werewolves had a liking for a full moon and I wonder if only red-headed werewolves come out during a blood moon. Maybe zombie werewolves and they are coming to eat your brains. A study by the Bradford Royal Infirmary found that dog bites occurred twice as often on days of a full moon that at any other time. All I can say is 'don't go around tonight. Well, it's bound to take your life. There's a blood moon on the rise'.

In Australia, we call anyone with red hair, "Bluey", so perhaps this is where the saying 'once in a blue moon' comes from. The last lunar eclipse was apparently back in 2000 and we won't see another one until 2011. Here is the view across to the Carillion here in Canberra with the moon in time lapse photography. Impressive stuff.

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