Lunar Eclipses


Jedi Master
The first total lunar eclipse of 2007 is tonight and it can be viewed from Istanbul also. The moon has become very small and now and again I go out to the balcony to check. You can find info on lunar eclipses at the below link:
I have a question that might seem totally elementary and reveal my basic ignorance, but I've watched at least 4 lunar eclipses in my life - from start to finish - and not once did the moon look 'copper' or 'red' or 'orange' once it was eclipsed.

So, my question is what is the mechanism behind this? I suppose I could have just not noticed that the moon was 'reddish' during these eclipses, but I admit to finding that really hard to believe. I have seen a reddish moon rising if there have been local forest fires or something - but never during an eclipse. So, pardon my ignorance, but I'm just wondering if there was something different about this eclipse - or have I been color blind all the other times?
Yea , this was the second time in my life I watched full lunar eclipse from the begining to the end, what I saw last night was quite surreal looking, in the last stage the colour was actually purplish
I have seen a few of these, and have observed different colours. When the disc of the Earth is encroaching on the Moon, the edge of the arc seems like a dirty orange. When the Moon is fully eclipsed, it is more a pewter colour than copper, close to brown.
anart said:
I have a question that might seem totally elementary and reveal my basic ignorance, but I've watched at least 4 lunar eclipses in my life - from start to finish - and not once did the moon look 'copper' or 'red' or 'orange' once it was eclipsed.
Yeh, I can't remember seeing one that colour before either. Found this. They do vary.


Lunar eclipses differ greatly in appearance, because varying amounts of light are refracted or scattered into the Earth's shadow by its atmosphere. The darkest eclipses occur when clouds of volcanic ash high in the atmosphere block most of this light. The following scale, intended for visual observers, was designed by the French astronomer André Louis Danjon (1890-1967).
i watched it. it was definitely red from here! and to me looked similar to previous lunar eclipses that I've seen.

I took some photos (not that that proves anything to anyone else - they're digital so could easily be 'colour manipulated')

I think that the commonly accepted reason for the colour is that the only light which illuminates the moon during a lunar eclipse, is that which has 'skimmed' past the surface of the earth, ie it is the edge around the earth's shadow, and so this light becomes red-tinted in the same way as sunlight near sunrise/sunset, due to atmospheric refraction.
edit: ok, someone already covered that.

the purple or orange variations - I don't know, and I didn't notice that. maybe it is due to relative colour-tint of the lighting conditions near the observer, so that the red of the moon is seen as a different tint relative to that?

btw, thanks aurora, for posting about this. I logged on and read your notice about an hour before the eclipse was due to start, and previously knew nothing about it - so I would have missed it without reading this!
I've seen that color before on a full lunar eclipse. It has to be a clear night, but what happens is that the moon is covered by the earth's shadow, but the earth reflects enough light back to the moon to make the dark part visible in a very faint reddish color. Amazing.

We couldn't see this one when it was total from where I live, by the time the moon was visible and the clouds lifted it was about three-quarters in shadow, but my 10-year old could see the reddish rest of the moon. I couldn't with my eyes.
I remember seeing a total lunar eclipse back in the early 1990s. I was only about 13 at the time, and remember seeing the moon vanish completely. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't there a huge volcanic erruption in 1991 which caused the mean temperature of the earth to lower by over 1 degree Celsius? If so, then this could possibly explain why the moon disappeared during this eclipse -- the concentration of dust in the earth's atmosphere was too high to allow light to be refracted onto the moon. The last total eclipse I saw, around 2000, was the usual dark red.
I couldn't see the eclipse from here - it was overcast here, but I've only seen one eclipse that was reddish and it *seemed* lower on the horizon, perhaps the angle has something to do with it - I was living further south at the time - I don't really know, just my guess without some real empirical data.
Here is a link to 'speaks' of the color red during a lunar eclipse.
This was the first time I had viewed a total lunar eclipse through an amatuer telescope (magnification around 200x-250). I watched the whole thing and was amazed that through the telescope there was no redish or coppery discolouring of the darkened parts of the moon. However when viewed with binoculars or just by eye, the reddish/copperish colour was quite easily definable.

One thing I did notice that was unusual for the moon (considering my previous adventures with my fairly newly gifted telescope) was that it was giving off a mesmerizing display of colours on the edges where it had not yet been covered by darkness. Around the edge of the moon was a fine band of eaily desicernible colours, going from Green closest to the surface, then into blue a little higher, then into a pretty violet. I've never seen this type of light being reflected by the moon before and in this peculiar way, but it did remind me of rainbow in the way the colours mixed form one to another. My mother and sister were remarking how beautiful it was, and how vivid the colours were through the telescope.

From where I was it was a great night for skywatching with a totolly clear sky (although still with some level of light pollution) and my mother remarked a few times about the number of stars that she could see being more than she had seen in a long, long time.
anart said:
I have a question that might seem totally elementary and reveal my basic ignorance, but I've watched at least 4 lunar eclipses in my life - from start to finish - and not once did the moon look 'copper' or 'red' or 'orange' once it was eclipsed.
We made a note to go outside at the appointed time and check it out, but of course we forgot. :( When we did remember around 7 PM, all there was to see was just a small sliver of silver showing on the underside.

Of course, we weren't in an optimum viewing area of the world, and all I did was peek my head out the patio door since it was so cold.
Some images can be found here:
I am watching the "blood moon" total lunar eclipse right now. What a spectacular site!
The length of totality is exceptionally brief: it occurred at 4:58 a.m. and lasted for less than five minutes. That's because the moon is moving through the narrow upper part of the Earth's circular shadow. If it moved through the center of the shadow, it would last a lot longer.
According to Sky & Telescope,
This particular lunar eclipse is the third in a series of four eclipses that are each separated by about six months. The first two occurred on April 15 and Oct. 8 of 2014. A fourth will take place on Sept. 28. Astronomers call this an eclipse tetrad and it is relatively rare. The last one occurred 10 years ago and the next won't take place until 2032.

You can watch the eclipse live on

Here are the pictures I was able to take of this event with my camera:


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  • Moon Eclipse Apr 4 2015.jpg
    Moon Eclipse Apr 4 2015.jpg
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  • Total Moon Eclipse Apr 4 201.jpg
    Total Moon Eclipse Apr 4 201.jpg
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