Get Ready for 2011’s First Lunar Eclipse

Posted June 14th, 2011 at 4:42 pm (UTC-4)

If you live in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa or Australia, you’re in luck – you get to witness the first of 2011’s two total lunar eclipses.

However, those of us who live in North and Central America won’t be as fortunate. We’ll either have to watch the video or read about the eclipse because it won’t be visible to us.

This total lunar eclipse, expected to be the longest-lasting one since July 2000, begins at approximately 1724 UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) on Wednesday, June 15 and ends about five hours later at 2300 UTC .

What makes this particular lunar eclipse noteworthy is that the totality of it – when sunlight to the moon is completely blocked by the Earth – will last 100 minutes.

A total lunar eclipse happens when a full moon passes behind the Earth and completely blocks the sun’s rays from reaching the moon. For this to happen, the sun, Earth and moon must be aligned exactly, or at least very closely, with the Earth placed between the sun and moon.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, orbiting about 31 miles above the lunar surface, will get a front-row seat to the total eclipse.  A device on the LRO, the Diviner Lunar Radiometer, will record just how quickly different areas on the moon’s day side will cool off during the eclipse.

The second and last total lunar eclipse of 2011 is set to take place on December 10. It should be visible to all of Asia and Australia, will be seen as rising over eastern Europe and setting over northwest North America.

Want more of a background on lunar eclipses?  Watch this video from NASA.


Rick Pantaleo
Rick Pantaleo maintains the Science World blog and writes stories for VOA’s web and radio on a variety of science, technology and health topics. He also occasionally appears on various VOA programs to talk about the latest scientific news. Rick joined VOA in 1992 after a 20 year career in commercial broadcasting.

3 responses to “Get Ready for 2011’s First Lunar Eclipse”

  1. Qudratullah says:

    Waiting in Pakistan at 33N and 70E. Some 5 hours yet to go.

    • Thanks for commenting… I’d be (and I’m sure other visitors) would love to hear your reaction and comments on watching this total lunar eclipse. In fact, I’d like to invite all who watch it to forward their thoughts and comments here.

  2. Qudratullah says:

    The eclipse started about 1130 pm PST. And in about an hour the whole of the moon surface was covered. When it first started it was black and when it was full, it became bright red. As time passed the brightness became faded and the color changed to dull red. Slowly and gradually the condition of the moon worsened like a disease weakening a person. Its size looked reduced. The stars emerged like on a no-moon-sky. The night was lovely but heavy. After hours the moon begin to emerge again. And bright again.