Astronomy Geometry

Many people have been in touch to ask why exactly there is an eclipse this evening. It’s really not too complicated and I’m happy to explain it to you.

‘Cos I can do Science, me.

Simply, a turtle lunar eclipse is when a really big turtle moves between the sun and the moon and casts its shadow across the lunar surface:

You can recreate this at home on a smaller scale by using a torch as the sun, a ping pong ball as the moon and a cockroach as the turtle.

It’s a very effective demonstration.

Cape Town Lunar Eclipse – touch and go

There’s a Lunar Eclipse – a BLOOD MOON! eclipse, nogal [audience gasps] – later this week: the longest lunar eclipse THIS CENTURY! [audience gasps again] (so far, anyway) and Cape Town is one of the best places to see it from.

If the weather plays ball, that is.

I was aware of this and had set a reminder on my calendar some time ago (for Wednesday: 54 hours apparently being my warning period of choice), but that was preempted by an email from my Dad. He’ll also be able to see the eclipse from the UK, but he’ll have a shorter window in which to view it because of the time of the moonrise and he’ll also face some daylight issues: it’s still light at 21:21 there, which is the time of the maximum eclipse.

But back to South Africa… Here’s what you need to know about Friday night’s happenings for Cape Town:

So basically, if you’re here in the Mother City, you need to be somewhere with a fairly clear sight of the sky to the east. Go elevated: think Rhodes Mem, Rustenberg Pavillion, anywhere looking across the Cape Flats towards the mountains of the Winelands for your photographic delectation.

The weather is looking a little iffy though. Touch and go.

Google says cloud.
Flowx says not.
Windguru says maybe.


The moon is all of 385,000km from earth. It would be frustrating if clouds just 1km from earth blocked our view of this phenomenon. But it’s five days away – so let’s just cross our fingers and keep an eye on developments.

I’ll post an update here later in the week.


There was a partial lunar eclipse this evening. Obviously, I took some photos.

I would have taken more photos, but the camera settings had been altered by Mrs 6000 while she was in Russia, and made little or no sense. I think I was lucky to get anything. I’m going to have to try and sort something out before I use the camera again, but a factory reset might just be the easiest route.

Partial lunar eclipses are arguably amongst the least exciting of all astronomical phenomena, but when you consider what they’re up against – stuff like comets and space stations and meteor showers – ¬†they never really stood much of a chance.

Partial Lunar Eclipse’s big brother, Total Lunar Eclipse, has promised to pop in next July.