Lunatic: Tonight’s total eclipse will be unusually long

2011-06-15 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG residents will be in a prime position to be first witnesses of tonight’s total lunar eclipse, and visitors to the capital will have an expert guide in Dr Vincent Couling.

Couling, a physicist with the University of KwaZulu-Natal, will, under the auspices of Café Scientific, use telescopes and a camera to capture the darkening of the Moon and explain the cosmic process that still manages to mystify man.

The last total lunar eclipse visible from South Africa occurred in February 2008.

What will make the 2011 eclipse special is that it should last for 100 minutes, which is unusually long. Frikkie de Bruyn, the director of the cosmology section of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, said the entire eclipse should be visible all over the country if clouds allow.

The night sky promises to be clear throughout the KZN interior. De Bruyn said the eclipse will start at 7.26 pm and will end at 12.59 am tomorrow.

The full eclipse is expected to start at 9.24 pm and the Moon will start reappearing at 11.02 pm.

The next total lunar eclipse is expected on December 10 this year, but it will only be seen as a partial eclipse from South Africa.

South Africans will have to wait until September 2015 for the next countrywide view of this lunar event.

Moonrise on the coast is at 5.49 pm. Proceedings at the café start at 6.30 pm.

For reservations, call Stephanie at 033 342 9380 or e-mail cafsci@jivemedia.co.za. They expect a full house.

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