Total Lunar Eclipse - 16 June 2011

Moon about three quarters of the way into Total Eclipse.
Moon about three quarters of the way into Total Eclipse.

Total Lunar Eclipse

On the 16 th June 2011, I was fortunate to witness a reasonably rare astronomical event. It is what's known as a Total Lunar Eclipse.

The Moon in some form or other has always held a fascination. I can remember as a kid reading all I could about the Moon and studied its movements any time that I had the opportunity.

So I set my mental alarm clock and sure enough awoke early in the morning. Believe me it was freezing, the temperature was around Zero Celsius ( really!!) just in time to see the Moon entering into the Eclipse!

According to experts this Total Eclipse was one of the best ever, being the longest since the Total Eclipse that occurred in 2000 which just happened to be one of the three longest Total Lunar Eclipses since 1000 BC. There's a piece of Knowledge for your next game of Trivial Pursuit!

This Total Eclipse started it's traverse across the Moon or it is probably more correct to say that the Moon started it's traverse through the Earth's shadow at around 4.23 am with Total Eclipse around 5.22 am . The Total Eclipse lasted for approximately 100 minutes

How to recognize an Eclipse

Some readers my not fully understand what actually happens during an Eclipse, a Lunar Eclipse in particular. I will digress and try briefly to explain what I believe happens.
Basically there are three heavenly bodies involved:

  • Sun
  • Earth
  • Moon

In relation to Eclipses we find that in normal day to day operation what happens is that there are two orbits that concern our Eclipses:

  • The Earth orbits around the Sun
  • The Moon orbits around the Earth.

These two orbits are not related to each other and cannot travel the same orbital path however at times from where we are viewing they do intersect!
We must also remember that the Sun is indeed many, many miles further away from the earth than the Moon, meaning that the Moon in it's orbiting around the Earth has the ability (at times) to pass between the Sun and the Earth. This would be a Solar Eclipse!

Diagram of how a Total Lunar Eclipse occurs with views indicating what we would see on Earth!  (definitely NOT to scale) With thanks to Sagredo for partial  schematic
Diagram of how a Total Lunar Eclipse occurs with views indicating what we would see on Earth! (definitely NOT to scale) With thanks to Sagredo for partial schematic

Total Lunar Eclipse expained!

Eclipses are all about 'shadow' the technical term is 'Umbra' (Now you know where the name Umbrella originated) The Umbra in the diagram is indicated by the 'darkest' part of the shadow of the Earth.

Please let me explain further!

Lets conduct a little experiment with 'shadow' where you sit right now?

First we need the following props:

  • a light source a single lamp is good, that will be our Sun.
  • a round flat tin, that will be our Earth.
  • another round object smaller than the Earth, that will be our Moon.
  • one sheet of white paper. to get the best shadow effect!

Ok got all of that?
Turn on the lamp :-) I've used the ceiling fluro for this demo, place the paper on the desk. Next, hold the Earth so that a shadow is cast on the paper, make sure that there is space between the Earth and the Paper! Keep in mind that in 'real life' the paper would not be there and you would not see any 'shadow' it would extend out into space. This is referred to as 'night time' :-)
Now slowly move the Moon between the Earth and the paper!
What do you see happening?
The Shadow of our Earth appears to be moving across the face of the Moon right?

Notice anything else? The 'shadow' being cast is 'arc' shaped, following the contour of our Earth.
If you were to move our Moon right through the shadow of our Earth you would see the Moon emerging from the shadow of the Earth to once again be hit by Sun Light.
Bravo. You have now made your own Eclipse!

Bear in mind that to get the correct perspective you should imagine that you are positioned on the surface of our Earth looking out at our Moon and the Moon would also be a lot smaller but I hope this has given you some insight into what constitutes an Eclipse?
For it to be a Total Eclipse, the whole of the body of the Moon must be completely covered by the Earths shadow in the same instant.

Start with a Full Moon !

Full Moon ( Super Moon ) The Moon in all of its brilliant splendor - No Eclipse here !!!
Full Moon ( Super Moon ) The Moon in all of its brilliant splendor - No Eclipse here !!!
Moon has just entered into the Eclipse .
Moon has just entered into the Eclipse .
During the Total Lunar Eclipse 16-06-2011.
During the Total Lunar Eclipse 16-06-2011.
The last rays of Sunshine about to leave the Moon - nearing Total Lunar Eclipse!
The last rays of Sunshine about to leave the Moon - nearing Total Lunar Eclipse!

Finish with Total Lunar Eclipse

Moon very close to being in Total Eclipse.
Moon very close to being in Total Eclipse.

Have you ever witnessed a Total Lunar Eclipse?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Let me see now?
See results without voting

Disclaimer and Questions

I am not claiming 'expert' status with regard to this matter I just find the subject to be very interesting. Having said that I believe the above to be an accurate assessment of how a Total Lunar Eclipse occurs. However if anyone disagrees or would like to add further to the discussion by all means , via the 'comment' boxes below, feel free to contribute your thoughts or Questions!

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It looks right to me. good pictures.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

G'day mate and thanks for dropping by! I appreciate your kind comment. The images of the Total Lunar Eclipse were all taken by me and my trusty Canon Camera :-)


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi agvulpes. First of all why have you got such a dodgy name? Or is your name actually A.G. Vulpes?

Now, i was tucked up in bed during that freezing cold night, being content enough to wait a thousand years for the next one, but my adventurous, inquisitive wife Linda ventured out to marvel at the scene unfolding. She was suitably excited but didn't get a photo, unusual for her as she's normally snap happy. She's in the process of buying a new camera, either a Canon, or a Nickon, i think. Which one has the thousand year guarantee? Cheers nice pics and saved me from getting up.


paulgc 5 years ago

Excellent article and a wonderful set of lunar images.

I tried to get my own pictures but alas the cloud cover was too thick over my part of England, typical.

Thanks for sharing,

Voted up and useful.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

@attemptedhumor, no my name is not A.G.Vulpes but not a bad idea?

What, you got no sense of adventure ?

Pictures do not, the full picture paint! You have to see the whole sky in all it's glory to appreciate the full beauty of a total lunar eclipse.

Thanks for dropping by, cheers :-)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

@paulgc, thanks for your kind comment. The closer the Moon got to Total Eclipse the harder it was to get a good image. I did not have a tripod available with me so had to go 'hand held'.

It was bad luck for you with the cloud cover, I would love to know what time of day the Total Lunar Eclipse occurred in England?

I was very fortunate indeed as there was not a cloud in the sky and the ash cloud from the Volcano gave the moon a 'reddish' 'orange' tint. I was also given an extra bit of excitement when a meteor flashed across the sky. It was quite eerie!

Thanks for you support it is much appreciated :-)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, great stuff! I missed it too! In England, it was supposed to be about 9 30 at night, but it was covered up as usual! but we have seen one before, and I remember the spooky red around it, thanks for the pictures, saved me trying to push the clouds out the way! lol metaphorically speaking of course! thanks


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

G'day Nell, sorry to hear you missed the Total Lunar Eclipse due to cloud cover, 9.30pm would have been a much more civilized time to watch the spectacle lol

I would have thought your guys in England would have used their ingenuity and somehow blown those pesky clouds away lol

I was actually very surprised to find that our sky was as clear as a bell, as I said the temp here was Zero and we had a very heavy frost that morning.

Thanks for dropping by Nell I appreciate your visit :-)


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Tried that, but I ran out of Puff! ha ha your winter is probably better than our summer!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

LOL My mum and dad came out from England before I was born and they told me a lot about English seasons. I think I will stay in OZ thank you lol


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

But it was cold outside, wasn't it?


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Yes mate it was cold. So cold in fact that it would freeze the b.... off a brass monkey, if you know what I mean ;-)


Rod Marsden profile image

Rod Marsden 5 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

There was too much cloud cover on the south coast of NSW at the time to see anything other than cloud. I am glad you got to see it. Yes. It was very cold. Voted up.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Rod that was unfortunate for you to miss such a spectacle!

I'm starting to realise just how lucky I was to see the Total Eclipse in all of it's glory. I can only imagine what people thought was happening back in the dark ages?

What amazes me is that these Lunar and Solar eclipses can be pinpointed so accurately!

Thanks so much for your support, it is much appreciated:-)


rihsam10 profile image

rihsam10 5 years ago

interesting hub


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Thanks mate, I am fascinated by Total Lunar Eclipses especially with the accuracy that they can be predicted !


Alladream74 profile image

Alladream74 5 years ago from Oakland, California

Thanks for sharing


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

Alladream, you are welcome!


marshacanada profile image

marshacanada 5 years ago from Vancouver BC

I also loved your pictures agvulpes. And I have also stood shivering to watch this beautiful sight but never for very long since cold and fatigue won out.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

@marshacanada thanks so much for your kind comment!

I know what you mean the body can take just so much when there is a nice warm bed beckoning lol

However for me it was well worth it to get up to watch the Total Lunar Eclipse and share it with all my friends. I wish I had got a picture of the meteor flashing across the sky!

Thanks again for dropping by :-)


billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 5 years ago

Thanks for the description of the total lunar eclipse and the wonderful photos - perfect for astronomy students and the amateur stargazers amongst us.


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

G'day b.a.d. and thanks for the kind comment:-) You have made me think about how many of us do not understand what happens during a Total Lunar Eclipse?

Thanks for dropping by:-)


SusieQ42 5 years ago

I'm glad I visited tonight. I don't know much about the eclipse, but your hub was very interesting. Thanks for sharing!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 5 years ago from Australia Author

SusieQ42 thanks so much for your kind comment and I hope in some small way my hub about the Total Lunar Eclipse was found to be useful.:-)


BWD316 profile image

BWD316 19 months ago from Connecticut

Awesome photos! I saw a lunar eclipse years and years ago but have missed recent ones do to cloudy conditions. Great hub!


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 19 months ago from Australia Author

@BWD316 It's hard to believe that the Lunar Eclipse was nearly 4 years ago?

We have just had a partial Lunar Eclipse and I only got a small glimpse due to cloud cover. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a nice comment :)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working