What does a lunar eclipse look like from the Moon?

The entire universe in blog form
Feb. 19 2009 7:00 AM

What does a lunar eclipse look like from the Moon?

A lunar eclipse is when the Earth passes between the Sun and Moon, casting a shadow on the lunar surface. From the Earth, we see a circular bite taken out of the Moon, a dark arc slowly growing, mimicking the crescent Moon shape.

But what does it look like from the Moon? Well, if you were standing there, looking around, you'd see it grow darker, the landscape around you enshrouded in shadow.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

Advertisement

Btu if you looked up... you might see this:

Lunar eclipse as seen from Kaguya

That magnificent sight is the Sun being eclipsed by the Earth as seen from the Moon. Specifically, it's taken by the Japanese probe Kaguya as it orbited our own satellite. How awesome is that? Usually, the diamond ring effect is seen in a solar eclipse, when the Moon blocks the Sun as seen from Earth. Sunlight peaks around lunar mountains and valleys, creating what looks like a wedding ring in the sky. But not this time: that's the Earth's atmosphere lit up, a circle of a sunlight, a ring of a thousand simultaneous sunrises and sunsets.

Think about it: for tens of thousands of years, humans have watched in awe as the Moon slowly gets eaten by the Earth's shadow. Over the generations myths have been attributed to it, legends and stories told about the Moon being eaten by dragons and other fanciful tales. Eventually we learned what it really meant (the ancient Greeks knew, those clever people)... but it's only been in the past few years that we've been able to be there when it happens.

And it's now that we can turn around, look back home, and see where it all began. Sometimes you have to travel far to understand where your journey began.

Tip o' the eclipse-safe goggles to BABloggee STUARTATK. Image Credit: JAXA/NHK. Also, Emily has more.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Television
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.