Observatory ready for total eclipse

Dunedin Astronomical Society volunteer Stu Todd checks the camera on the main telescope at Beverly Begg Observatory. PHOTO: ELLA STOKES
Dunedin Astronomical Society volunteer Stu Todd checks the camera on the main telescope at Beverly Begg Observatory. PHOTO: ELLA STOKES
A special moon event is on the horizon, with an ‘‘extra special’’ way to look at it in Dunedin.

Late on January 31, the Dunedin Astronomical Society will open the doors of its Beverly Begg Observatory at Robin Hood Park to allow the public to view a total lunar eclipse.

It occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth, into its shadow, and occurs only when the sun, Earth, and moon are aligned in syzygy with the Earth in the middle.

With the Earth’s shadow completely blocking direct sunlight reflecting from the moon’s surface, it changes from its usual silvery white to a copper-red colour.

Dunedin Astronomical Society volunteer Stu Todd said the total lunar eclipse was an extra special event, as it would be the first since April 2015 and there would not be another until May 2021.

Mr Todd said the eclipse would begin on January 31, at 11.51pm and viewing would be at its best from 1.50am to 2.30am on February 1.

Mr Todd said he had his fingers crossed ‘‘ the Dunedin weather would play its part’’, and was hoping for a clear night to enable the moon to be clearly seen.

Mr Todd had an interest in space and science as ‘‘when you look through a telescope what you’re seeing is completely unique, no-one else has seen it the way you have before and that is extra special’’.

The society, which is completely run by volunteers, has been running since 1910, making it the country’s oldest astronomical society.

‘‘Hopefully, people will appreciate how special the event is,’’ Mr Todd said.

★ The Beverly Begg Observatory will be open from midnight on January 31 to allow the public to observe the eclipse.

ELLA.STOKES@thestar.co.nz 

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