- Title: SOUTH AFRICA/ZAMBIA: Africans enjoy clear skies for lunar eclipse
- Date: 16th June 2011
- Summary: MARIA KANGWA, SKY WATCHER, LOOKING ON (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIA KANGWA, SKY WATCHER, SAYING: "A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the sun earth and moon are lined exactly or very closely so when the earth, with the earth in the middle, hence there is always the full moon the night of the lunar eclipse. No wonder, I saw the moon, it was very full and that's why I was even, I was shocked that you were even talking about the eclipse." WIDE OF KANGWA AND ANOTHER WOMAN IN ROOM VARIOUS OF FULL MOON
- Embargoed: 1st July 2011 13:00
- Location: South Africa, Zambia
- Country: South Africa Zambia
- Topics: Environment,Science
- Reuters ID: LVA87NGACPC4YNCHUIOBKFHTYM1Z
- Story Text: South Africans gathered at the Witwatersrand Planetarium on Wednesday (June 15) to watch the total lunar eclipse.
Claire Flanagan from the planetarium explained that a total lunar eclipse is when the moon moves into the shadow of the earth.
"Technically it's when the moon goes into the shadow of the earth which means there's no sunshine on it for a couple of hours, and what that means for us is that looking at it from the earth we see it changing shape, like over about an hour noticeably you can watch go into the shadow of the earth, so it will go from being bright round full moon, from about 20:22 ,if you look at it then, that's the best time to look, you'll notice this shadow kind of looks like its developing on the side of the moon and getting bigger and bigger, that's actually the moon moving into the shadow of the earth." Said Flanagan The earth's shadow started to fall on the lunar surface at 18:22 GMT and lifted at 23:00 GMT.
Totality is when the lunar face is completely covered, and runs from 19:22 to 21:02 GMT, and was visible in parts of Europe, eastern Africa, Asia and Australia.
Kobi Van Zyl, another representative of the Wits Planetarium added that this lunar eclipse is one of the longest total moon eclipses.
"This eclipse tonight is especially important for us because it's a 100 minute totality so at 21:20, 21:22 when it goes into totality it's gonna stay like that until 23:02 before it will start opening up again, it's one of the longest total moon eclipses, it's also visible through the whole of Africa," said Van Zyl.
The hundred minute period of totality is the longest since July 2000.
This is relatively rare, where the centre point of earth's shadow passes across the moon. The last time a lunar eclipse was closer to the centre of the earth's shadow was on July 16 2000.
Murendeni Tshivase, who went to the planetarium to see the eclipse, said that it was important to go and see it because a monument such as this one is rare.
"Actually it was a very important because a monument like this is very rare to find and you might find that it happens only once after five years or something like that, so it's very important to come here and watch it."
The next total lunar eclipse visible from South Africa in 2015 starting at 3:30am, and the next total lunar eclipse visible from South Africa at a civilized hour is in 2018.
The phenomenon was enjoyed elsewhere in Africa.
In Zambia, Maria Kangwa in Lusaka, had read up on its details on the Internet.
"A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth so that the earth blocks the sun rays from striking the moon. This can occur only when the sun earth and moon are lined exactly or very closely so when the earth, with the earth in the middle, hence there is always the full moon the night of the lunar eclipse. No wonder, I saw the moon, it was very full and that's why I was even, I was shocked that you were even talking about the eclipse," she said.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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