Total lunar eclipse for SA

2011-05-25 14:41

Cape Town - The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) has announced that a rare eclipse will be visible in SA during June.

"A total lunar eclipse will be visible from South Africa on the 15th of June 2011. The last total lunar eclipse visible from this region was in February 2008 and the next one will only be in September 2015," the SAAO told News24 in a statement.

Despite the regular nature of eclipses, astronomer Dr Enrico Olivier said that this was quite special.

"It's special in the sense that it's a total eclipse which is somewhat more rare than a normal lunar eclipse which is usually a partial or penumbral eclipse," he told News24.

The moon will enter the earth's shadow at 21:22 and at 23:03, will start to leave the earth's umbral shadow. The next total eclipse will be visible from SA in September 2015.


"There are at least two a year, at currently they tend occur toward the middle and end of the year.

"There's another one at the end of the year and that one will be a total eclipse if I remember correctly from certain parts of the world, but from Southern Africa it will only appear as a partial eclipse and that will only happen in the early morning," said Olivier.

The difference for observers between the solar and lunar eclipse was that there was no danger to the eyes when one looked at a lunar eclipse as opposed to a solar eclipse.

Olivier said that no special precautions were necessary when viewing the eclipse.

"A solar eclipse the moon actually casts a shadow on the surface of the earth, and in the case of a lunar eclipse it's the other way round: The earth is actually casting its shadow on the moon," he said.

Observers in the urban areas would not get the same view of the night sky during an eclipse as those who are in rural areas, said Olivier.

"It would appear similar to when there's no full moon around. In the case of the city it won't make that much difference because of the light pollution, but if you go to a dark site, you notice the difference to when there's no moon around and when there's a full moon."


There is no real scientific significance of a lunar eclipse though Olivier acknowledged that there were several cultural myths around celestial events.

"There is not much astronomical interest, from large ground based observatories anyways. Except maybe it provides astronomers at these observatories an extra few hours of dark sky time on that specific night."

Volunteers from the SAAO will be going on a hike up Lion's Head to witness the eclipse if the weather permits and the public is invited to join them just before the moon rises at about 17:30.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter


An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a statement to Dr Olivier. News24 regrets the error.


  • Pigscanfly - 2011-05-25 15:04

    Time to bring out those solar powered torches

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 09:39

      do we have them in SA?

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 12:05

      maybe i should have asked, ones that work? china sending us all their rubbish. or did you forget?

  • Airborne68 - 2011-05-25 15:13

    Must be sponsored by Eskom.

      John - 2011-05-25 15:27

      nah, it's the ancestors pi$$ed at the ANC!

      Daniel - 2011-05-25 16:54

      does ba julius own this company ?

      Wedfew - 2011-05-26 06:16

      If its sponsored by Eskom we doomed...

      Barry - 2011-05-26 10:06

      @ Daniel Baas Julius must have at a least 40 % stake

      lakhan7 - 2011-05-26 10:45

      good one John!

      Matt - 2011-05-26 16:52

      Julius Malema will soon admit to being gay. Hence, he'll be a black-out

  • sniffter - 2011-05-25 15:15

    i take a dim view of these lunar eclipses

      Barry - 2011-05-26 10:06

      LOL Good one

  • Playnice - 2011-05-25 15:21

    All the "lunar tics" will be out to watch

      Wedfew - 2011-05-26 06:17

      So you already out... waiting..

  • El Cid - 2011-05-25 15:24

    A lunar eclipse of the heart...

  • MacDaKnife - 2011-05-25 15:31

    Dont get excited its just Malema passing the earth

      wopper - 2011-05-25 19:51


      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:42

      @Fred Basset - I like your thinking! (wit)

      onmyway - 2011-05-26 15:09

      @wopper - MacDaKnife was only pointing out the obvious.

  • zulufox - 2011-05-25 15:31

    the lunar (tics) have already eclipsed SA with news of apocalypse

      Daniel - 2011-05-25 16:55

      And the elections !!

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:40

      @Daniel- Please leave Juli-AAS Mal-enema out of this argument/discussion!

  • Audacious - 2011-05-25 15:56

    the main difference between the solar and lunar eclipse was that there was no danger of UV radiation when one looked at a lunar eclipse with the naked eye. Very very scientific.

      All3 - 2011-05-25 16:17

      And that is the MAIN difference... Now we know

      Tiens - 2011-05-25 16:44

      suffering from a bit of foot-in-mouth disease, our dr Olivier?

      Mason Stonehenge - 2011-05-25 20:54

      And here I thought it was because one was the Sun, and the other the Moon..

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 08:13

      so, there you go then. the sun burns your eyes and the moon does not. did we need the scientist to tell us that?

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:39

      Haw? You too cleva!

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 10:21

      Mike. Don't be too quick with the compliments even though I like them. I am going to drive with my parking lights on or no lights to help Eskom. They need all the help they can get, yes? Tell you what. You do this first then tell me if it works, I am a bit chicken but then hell,with all those taxis around it must be ok ????

  • Tony - 2011-05-25 16:10

    I'm so pleased to see a bunch of comments with no racial slurs!!!

      50something - 2011-05-25 16:18

      I am afraid not even this article escaped the racial issue - look carefully and you'll find it.

      Mike - 2011-05-26 07:57

      There are many already!

  • Tony - 2011-05-25 16:24

    I saw what 50something was referring to, but only class comments about humans as possibly racial.

      50something - 2011-05-25 16:36

      Now now Tony, leave it at that

  • roelofk - 2011-05-25 16:38

    Oh yeah! The end of the world! FTW.... well done Johannes Coetzee!

  • simon - 2011-05-25 17:02

    What poor reporting! The exact start and finish of the 2015 eclipse are given, but no such detail about the one on 15 June, except to say one can join the group at 17 :30. Oh well, today's education system, I suppose.

      Bigyin - 2011-05-26 07:49

      Read the grade 6 English - It starts at 21:22. P.S. It should read "The exact start and finish of the 2015 eclipse "IS" given"

      Mike - 2011-05-26 08:01

      IF you open your eyes it says it will start at 21.22 etc. see the sentence above the heading in bold "Difference". Catch a wake up already!

      Garthn - 2011-05-26 13:36

      The education system clearly failed simon

  • Twoplusthree - 2011-05-25 18:44

    I cannot picture a total lunar eclipse. If you have not seen one, you haven't seen any.

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 07:51

      can the total lunar eclipse be photographed? just asking, i will really be in th dark.

      Mike - 2011-05-26 08:09

      Shall I draw you a picture?

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 08:29

      Mike, can you draw in the dark? There is no guarantee Eskom is going to help us out here!

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:32

      @Whitesa - eish - you too funny! BTW - Talking about Eiskom - did you know that the reason so many Taxis drive with either their park lights on or no lights at all is beause Eiskom said they must save "the electric". Only in the good non-racist SA of course!

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 09:38

      Mike, I liked that answer, give you a thumbs up for it. Will spread the news then maybe the rest of us can save electricity the same way ;)))

  • - 2011-05-25 19:03

    Yippee, a good excuse for a rip-roaring party!

  • maseratifitt - 2011-05-25 20:28

    Forces of darkness! Why do these agents only arrange these things in the dark of night? We demand to see this during daytime. Only then will we believe them.

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 07:57

      you want to see these forces of darkness - agents - during the day??? man, that could be scary. dark shadows floating about on the earth in daylight getting up to no good, wooooooooooooooooooooh, then floating back up the sun, or was it moon, i forget, and casting their dark shadow across whatever to make it dark here on earth when we actually want light so we can see them again.

      Honeybabe - 2011-05-26 08:17

      You may be on to something here, for the eclipses that i had experienced, it happened during the day, you know moon and sun, apparantly getting married ( that is how i described it the first time), however this one that starts at 21.33 in the middle of winter in June, where already its dark and rainy and cloudy, how is one going to see it, and who hikes the Lion's head in a rainy winter? But ppl should watch out. and forcess of darkness, apparantly they make ppl do weird things and hey, for them all their productive things happen in the dark and this time is the lion's head ( slippery) satan is desperate for blood and now we see it, ppl pray pray i tell you!

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:37

      @Honeybabe - it rains in Ape Town in winter - not in the sunny part of SA. So, get a life and move out! Helen can't be that much of a magnet to endure that crap weather!

  • Lindinha - 2011-05-25 20:37

    It's the ancestors revenge.

  • Bigyin - 2011-05-26 07:47

    Nice to know but Duncan needs to pull out his Std 5 English results to make sure he passed? Who proof read this? The grammar is terrible!

      Mike - 2011-05-26 08:07

      The problem today is that "proof reading" is no more a trade. Everybody assumes that if it is spewed out by a computer then it must be correct! If you take any weekly magazine and check the spelling and literals it is quite atrocious. I can understand a daily newspaper having mistakes because of the pressure of bedding it down, but not so in a magazine!

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 08:10

      dont't touch them on their english !!!

  • Dries - 2011-05-26 08:01

    One wonders at the repeated bad grammar, silly syntax and poor meaning conveyed in the News24 reports of late. What is going on in that newsroom? Just read carefully through this report and see, and then read all the other news reports and stand in awe at South African "English as she is spoke".

  • whitesa - 2011-05-26 08:41

    Hey guys and dolls. It is winter in Durban. It is raining and wind is almost as strong as in the Cape. Beautiful full curved rainbow this morning - take it the eclipse has not started yet then?

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:34

      Serves you right to stay there!

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 10:27

      Mike. I did not say I don't like it here. It is lekker in Durbs by the sea - I just hate summer, too hot, humid and just not lekker. Bet you did not get to see a beautiful rainbow this morning like I did. Want that pot of gold but where to look, which is the beginning or end of the rainbow and did you know when you try to find the beginning or end the rainbow moves?? Darn. The rainbow get rich scheme is not a good one to follow - it never ends and is exhausting!

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 12:16

      man, this wind is strong - i mean the wind outside!. i have to go out and if it rains and i need to use a brolly i am going to take off like mary poppins. fly cheap and no luggage to worry about ! to my kids in oz and england - mom just may land on your doorstep. which doorstep depends on direction of wind. all say yay !!! no don't. that dork who calls us brain dead will cheer.

  • Uno_Beche - 2011-05-26 08:44

    I find i get quite horny during an eclipse. Is this normal?

      Mike - 2011-05-26 09:34

      It depends - are you male or female or "don't know"?

      Barry - 2011-05-26 10:12

      @ Uno_Beche Or gay? .....and don`t kill me and don`t remove my post because of this. It`s called freedom of speech. .....but then again the full moon does effect peoples sexuality

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 10:31

      Barry, you have experienced this ?

      one-way - 2011-05-26 10:39

      Do you run? 400m, 800m ?

      onmyway - 2011-05-26 15:04

      It is absolutely normal! You will also find that your fangs and coat will be nice and shiny!

      Felix - 2011-05-26 15:39

      onmyway- classic! I'm still howling with laughter.

  • Happy-go-lucky - 2011-05-26 09:48

    RADNESS!!!! would be nice to experience a SOLAR eclipse though

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 10:30

      For he's a jolly good fella, for she's a jolly good fellaress, for he/she............ altogether now !!!! At least you can see the solar eclipse the other one happens in the dark.

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 11:22

      whoever gave the thumbs down, what's wrong? can't sing or don't know the song? Happy go lucky wants us to be happy so be happy and cheer him for it!

      Happy-go-lucky - 2011-05-26 14:21

      lol, thanks WhiteSa, there is too much anger in these helps bringing in a happy tune every now and then :)

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 16:02

      ;)) my pleasure. have a happy day !

      Liberale - 2011-05-26 20:54

      You guys are way too happy, the end of the world has been moved (again) to june.... I see a bad moon arising!

  • Craig - 2011-05-26 10:59


  • gav.cowell - 2011-05-26 11:00

    @Uno Beche I get so horny even the crack of dawn looks good!

  • ME24.COM - 2011-05-26 11:26


      whitesa - 2011-05-26 11:49

      nah, just wondering why one brain dead is bothering with a bunch of other brain deads. takes more than sticks and stones to make me cross - remember we brain deads, which now includes you, are a bit slow ! i enjoy banter and silliness, makes me smile ! so, when you gonna stop wasting yours or your bossess gigabytes. you decided you like the banter and silliness also?

      whitesa - 2011-05-26 11:50

      oh, i pay for 5 gb so got to use them. waste not want not hey !!

      Vicker - 2011-05-26 11:56

      The true hurts? You just cannot help yourself...I rest my case. Eish da spel chekka she duzzent wek so goode

      Crunchie - 2011-05-26 12:46

      Nah, we not geting kros , joe myk jor nym gat

  • ME24.COM - 2011-05-26 12:29

    still brain dead :)

      GinSA1 - 2011-05-26 15:00

      Aaaah ME24.COM - hardon there? Enjoying yourself. Do not pass Go, simply pass - not wind, but ON..........

      cristinatjie - 2011-05-26 16:02

      he he funny people, or very bored !!!

  • NuttyZA - 2011-05-26 12:51

    Please no one mention this to Johannes Coetzee, he may think it's the start of the Rapture and book all his followers into a 5 Star Hotel in Sadnton!

      onmyway - 2011-05-26 15:02


  • Totman - 2011-05-26 12:59

    It's not fair. That time of the year we have to deal with Eskom and now we have to deal without moonlight as well. NOT FAIR!!!!

  • JMan - 2011-05-26 13:16

    The end is near.....doodooodooodoooooo.. ;)

      onmyway - 2011-05-26 15:01

      It is a pitty the "prophets" got Armageddon wrong the first time....It would have been way cooler if they could have worked the lunar eclipse into their predictions;-D

  • GinSA1 - 2011-05-26 14:53

    Start of the end, ask the American and his SA counterpart, all leading up to 21 October...............................

  • Matt - 2011-05-26 16:49

    Oprah Winfrey is back in SA and blocking out the sun

  • Joey - 2011-05-27 07:46

    HEY GUYS,maybe it will be the end of the world? lol

  • sanityplz - 2011-05-27 09:57

  • sanityplz - 2011-05-27 09:57

  • Dicky Dyson - 2011-06-13 17:25

    I've been reading all sorts of astrological twoddle regarding the lunar eclipse on Wednesday. How do seemingly intelligent people believe that the Moon entering Earth's shadow can affect the stock markets etc? It's a spectacle in itself so doesn't need any myth and lore to make it wonderful to observe. Unfortunately I'm not in a location to observe this one, but Google appear to have teamed up with some observatories to show it live on the Internet and have a free Android App to show it ( The observatories are in Dubai, South Africa and the Canary Islands (although I didn't think the entire eclipse is visible from the latter). It's the 21st century; can mankind come to terms with that fact? DD

  • Dicky Dyson - 2011-06-15 11:45

    Google have teamed up with Slooh to stream the lunar eclipse free from three locations: South Africa, Dubai, Cyprus. Guess they're hedging their bets! They have a special page here: and Google have made an free Android App available. I can't find any other live feeds. DD

  • Bubetta Madeks-Mdlulwa - 2011-06-15 20:14

    Looks like any old topic will bring out the whine in some people. what a shame. some people dance inthe rain and others just get wet. shame.

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