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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Last Saturday's Total Lunar Eclipse Last Until 2014

Did you miss yesterday's (Saturday) total lunar eclipse? If so, you'll not get a chance to see another, at least from planet Earth, until 2014. I went out to the bird's nest overlook which overhangs Machtesh Ramon with my 10 year old companion, Ayelet. About 5:10PM we saw the moon emerge from totality with just a bare crescent of light showing, which made it look like a diamond ring. I also noted how red the moon appeared, a big surprise. For us the red was initially concentrated around the rim of the moon, giving the diamond ring a rose gold appearance. It was all breathtakingly lovely as viewed from overhanging the Machtesh, as a red sunset appeared behind us with evening star Venus brightly shining in the west. Above was Jupiter, casting his baleful glow down on us, while the red super-giant Aldebaran appeared to the upper right of the moon. As the eclipse ended it looked like a little boy wearing a dark kippah on his head. Is that the Boy in the Moon?

The reddened moon is caused by the earth's atmosphere acting as a lens and refracting the sun's rays around the intervening earth onto the surface of the moon. So, this reddening is caused by all of the particulate matter, dust, dirt, volcanic ash, clouds, fog and pollution in the earth's atmosphere. In effect, we are seeing simultaneously all of the sunsets on the earth at one time projected onto the moon.

The moon emerging from its full eclipse the night of December 10, 2011 (Photo by Charles Jones, Phoenix, AZ)

It was surprising to see the moon so dark on this full-moon night. As the moon emerged from its eclipse and rose in the sky, it shone with full brightness, blocking out all but the brightest stars. That's the full moon I know in the desert. The desert has an unearthly glow in this full moonlight. I like to take people out to the edge of the Machtesh and look out on it in the moonlight on these full moon nights. It is a view few get, as for most the Machtesh is a day time activity. Now I think of the Israeli Space X team competing to send a robotic satellite on the moon, roll 500 meters, and take photos. Will Israel be the third country in history to land on the Moon? That would give it a special glow, indeed.

- by Ira Machefsky


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Israeli Team Competes in Google's Lunar X Prize

The waxing gibbous Moon as observed from EarthImage via Wikipedia

An Israeli group is one of 26 teams world-wide competing to win Google's Lunar X prize of $30 million dollars. The prize will be awarded to the first privately funded team to soft land an unmanned vehicle on the moon, move it 500 meters across the lunar surface and return images and data to earth. Additional prizes will be awarded for reaching other goals.The Israeli team plans to use the contest to inspire Israeli education in space technologies, an area in which Israel now lags.

English: Flag of Israel with the Mediterranean...Image via Wikipedia
The Israeli team has raised funding of $1 million and is looking for additional funding. Their robot uses Israeli nanotechnology already in existence. Israel launches its satellites westward, rather than the more common eastward direction, which keeps them out of enemy hands should they crash. However, it takes much more energy to orbit a satellite counter to the earth's rotation, so Israel has developed an edge in building very light weight satellites.

The robotic satellite that Team Space IL will build is only the size of a cell phone handset, and it will sit on a gigantic fuel tank that powers it. This nanosatellite will carry a miniature Israeli flag and the technology needed to complete the mission of the Lunar X prize. All of the winnings will be dedicated to spreading science and space education in Israel.

Go to the Space IL web site to learn more. Join the groups, and perhaps you or your company can contribute to funding the endeavor.


Related articles:

Trying to put the Israeli flag on the moon - (Jpost.com)
Join Space IL - (www.spaceil.com)


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Friday, December 2, 2011

Shabbat Eclipse - Saturday evening

Next Friday night Saturday night, December 10, the full moon will rise fully eclipsed at 4:37PM as we walk home from shul (beit keneset) after the end of Shabbat. This event will begin low in the east, so it is best to seek out a clear eastern horizon. Totality will end at 5:00PM. The partial phase ends at 6:18PM. Since it will be immediately after Shabbat we won't be doing any sky tours, but watching privately from the edge of the Machtesh. Enjoy it wherever you may be. And Shabbat Shalom!

Circumstances of the December 10, 2011 lunar eclipse

Israel Standard Time (IST) is Universal Time (UT) + 2 hours


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Solar Arm Chair Observing

I usually consider looking at astrophotos fun, but a poor substitute for getting out and observing under the night sky. One exception for me is solar observing, which can be done in quasi-real time using Neal Monk's Sun Spotter software for the MAC or PC. This software makes real time SOHO images of the sun available at the touch of a button. I especially like the white light "Sunspots" button, because it gives me a view of the sun similar to what I see with my solar filter on my 80mm refractor. I have it set to run on startup, so I get to see what the sun looks like every time I restart my computer. During  the day, I check the sun out periodically to see if anything interesting is happening that I might want to go outside and catch. Give this software a try. I think you'll like it.

Download site for Sun Spotter: http://fileol.com/education/sun-spotter-2.5.1.html

Today's sunspots from Sun Spotter.


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Halos Around the Moon

For much of last week Israel from center to south was covered by high cirrus clouds containing ice crystals, also called diamond dust. These ice crystals refract light from the moon, especially a bright full or near-full moon, at a 22 degree angle from the source. The result is a halo around the moon that is sometimes white, sometimes rainbow colored if the moon light and ice crystals are just right. This can be a beautiful sight, but it also ruins the sky for star tours, since the scattered light of the moon blocks out all but the brightest stars.

Last week, the near-full moon was quite close to Jupiter, which was the only heavenly body still visible through the moon halo. For a brief time I could see a slight rainbow with the red on the inner part of the halo, but for the most part it was just a faint white ring. This week, skies are clear, at least for now, in Mitzpe Ramon.

This 22 degree moon halo was seen last Thursday, 11/10/11, from Mitzpe Ramon. The bright object to the right of the moon is Jupiter.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Spotted Sun

The largest sunspot group in the current solar cycle number 24 is now visible in the center of the solar disk. This group is so large that you could fit 22 earths inside of it. It is also large enough to be visible to the naked eye as a tiny black "beauty mark" on the surface of the sun. Such large sunspots are not that rare as we approach the solar maximum, however, this has been an unusually quiet run-up to the solar maximum, which was originally expected in 2012 and may now be delayed. So, large sunspots have been rare so far in solar cycle 24. Scientists have not seen such low sunspot numbers for over a century, and the solar magnetic field, which produces sunspots, is at the lowest strength seen in over 50 years. There is even some fear that we may be entering a period of low solar activity comparable to the Maunder Minimum of 1645-1715 when the sun was spotless for 70 years and a mini-ice age occured. I guess that would put the kabosh on Global Warming, though.

However, the sun has recently been much more active, showing many spots and especially larger ones. Ancient Chinese astronomers reported seeing naked eye sunspots, viewing the sun through thin clouds. This made me want to take up the challenge of seeing naked-eye sunspots, too. As we approach the solar maximum these will probably become more frequent, but not common.

How do you do this safely? First of all, NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT EYE PROTECTION MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THAT PURPOSE. YOU WILL DAMAGE YOUR VISION. IF YOU USE ANY OPTICAL AID WITHOUT THE APPROPRIATE PROTECTION, YOU WILL GO BLIND INSTANTLY. DO NOT USE SOME CONTRAPTION YOU HAVE MADE YOURSELF, LIKE FILM OR SMOKED GLASS.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here is what you can do. A number 14 welder's glass is safe to use in front of your eyes for naked eye viewing. This is what I use. You can buy one at any welding supply store. They are easy to find in the US, but I don't know how easy they are to find in Israel. I buy my solar filters from Thousand Oaks Optical in the US and have been very happy with them. They not only make filters for naked eye use, but also for binoculars and other optics such as telescopes and cameras. Even very small optics can show a great deal of detail on the sun, which you can either photograph or draw. This also makes an interesting project for schools. Another method to view the sun is solar projection, where a pin hole or small optic is used to project an image of the sun on a screen, such as a piece of paper. Be careful if you use projection with a small optic like a binocular that you don't inadvertently shine it in someone's eye.

Here is an image of today's sun, showing the gigantic sunspot group in the center. It will take approximately 10 days for it to rotate out of sight, and who knows, it may be followed by another.

Sunspot group 1339 at the center of the sun, the largest group yet in solar cycle 24.




A close-up of the right portion of the sunspot group taken by Alan Friedman in Hydrogen Alpha light, showing the magnetic field surrounding the group.

- by Ira Machefsky
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Friday, October 28, 2011

Jupiter at Opposition Tonight

Jupiter reaches opposition with the sun today. This means it is the closest to the earth in this year's orbit around the sun. Like all planets at opposition ("opposite" the sun in the sky), it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. It will be well placed for viewing throughout the rest of the Fall and Winter months.

Jupiter shines at magnitude -2.9 and shows a disk of 49.7 seconds of arc, just a fraction smaller than last year and as big as it has been since 1962. It is "just" 593.9 million kilometers, or 33.02 light minutes, distant. It seems to be huge in my 102mm refractor, with lots of detail showing in the cloud bands that cross the planet. The Galilean moons continue their dance around the planet, adding a charming note to the view.

The Danish astronomer Ole Roemer was the first scientist to use the varying distance of Jupiter at opposition and at conjunction to estimate the speed of light, using the timing of transits of Jupiter's moon Io in the 1670s. He came up with a speed of 186,000 miles per second, almost right on the money.

Make sure you take some time to go out and view the planet during this opposition. The 4 Galilean moons should be visible in even small binoculars, although probably not all at the same time. Through even a very small telescope all 4 Galilean moons are easily visible, together with a wealth of detail on the planet. The orbit of the moons around Jupiter was one of the pieces of evidence that Galileo cited in support of the then still controversial heliocentric theory of Copernicus over against the geocentric theory of Ptolemy and the theologians of his time. You can go out and observe this piece of evidence with your own eyes tonight. It doesn't get more exciting than that!

Position of a superior plant (beyond the orbit of the Earth) at opposition, as Jupiter is now, and at conjunction.

- by Ira Machefsky
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mooned out for the Draconids Meteor Shower

Did you go out and watch the Draconids on October 8th? There was a meteor storm predicted, with meteor rates in excess of 750 per hour. We were out at our observing location and counted only a disappointing 2 meteors from 8:30PM - 10:00PM. Our sky conditions were very poor. Not only was there a nearly full moon in the sky, but there was also a high, thin haze that spread the moonlight across most of the sky. We even had a hard time seeing second magnitude Polaris, the Pole Star. Others in Israel and beyond counted much higher numbers, their skies presumably not affected by haze. Better luck next time.

A lone Draconid streaks across the October sky.

- By Ira Machefsky

Did you bet against Einstein? You lost!

As we foretold, the surest way to lose your money is to bet against Einstein. The hoopla over the discovery of neutrinos that allegedly (as they say of criminals) traveled faster than light (superluminal neutrinos) has died away, with only faint traces of pie left on the faces of the researchers at CERN, who forgot to take account of special relativity in timing the travel of the neutrinos between Geneva and Gran Sasso in Italy. The scientists at CERN used the highly accurate clocks in GPS satellites orbiting high above earth to synchronize their clocks in the laboratory. But they neglected to take account of the relative motion between their laboratory clocks and the GPS satellites, which accounted for a 32 nanosecond error in each direction of travel, almost exactly amounting to the 60 nanoseconds faster than light that the neutrinos were supposed to have traveled. Sic semper gloria mundi.

Neutrinos travelling between CERN in Geneva and Gran Sasso in Italy were mis-timed due to the relative motion between the two locations and GPS satellites in orbit above the earth.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cold Fusion - It's B-A-C-K

While we're on the subject of disruptive science, here's one you probably haven't heard about, since the mass media seem to be ignoring it, probably because claims about cold fusion have been proven bogus so often in the past. But, on October 6th this year physicist Andrea Rossi demonstrated his energy catalyzer or E-cat in Bologna, Italy before a group of invited scientists from around the world. It generated lots of heat over a period of four hours with no visible input. This doesn't mean it's the real deal, but of course this would change everything if it were true. We would be able to cancel every country's deficit just by turning the thing on for a few years. Everyone remains skeptical, but you can follow the progress of future tests here, some scheduled for the end of this month.

--by Ira Machefsky
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The Speed of Light - "Not just a Good Idea, It's The Law" Challenged

It's been a disruptive few weeks for physics. First scientists at CERN report possibly finding particles (neutrinos) that travel slightly faster than the speed of light (c), formerly thought to be the cosmic  speed limit. They've asked for scientists around the world to confirm their findings or show where they have gone wrong. The neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds (a billionth of a second) faster than expected. This is an exceedingly short, but significant, time, amounting to a distance of some 60 feet in the 500 or so miles the experiment involved.

Although the press touted this as possibly proving Einstein wrong, that was a bit of an exaggeration. General relativity has been tested and confirmed so many times that Einstein would be proven no more "wrong" by this than Newton was proved "wrong" by Einstein. You can still send rockets to the planets using good-old Newtonian mechanics without considering general relativity at all. Newton's laws are a very good approximation of how gravity works, within the limits where Newtonian physics is valid. The same would be true for Einstein's general theory of relativity. We'll have to wait to see how this turns out, but I have a feeling that Einstein will be vindicated.

One reason for this has to do with neutrinos from supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, our nearest galactic neighbor at 168,000 light years distant. Supernovas release copious amounts of neutrinos a short time before the light from the explosion is emitted. At the distance of the Large Magellanic Cloud those neutrinos should have arrived a year before the supernova itself became visible, if neutrinos do indeed travel faster than light. Instead they arrived just a short time before, as predicted by current theory and a cosmic speed limit for light of 186,000 miles/second.

There's an old saying in physics that the surest way to loose alot of money is to bet against Einstein. Or you could play the stock market.

--by Ira Machefsky
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Draconids Meteor Storm - This Could Be Very Big...

...or not. This year the Draconids meteor shower peaks on the night of October 8th, right after the end of Yom Kippur. Scientists this year are predicting a possible meteor storm from the Draconids, a condition in which over 750 meteors per hour might be seen. Let me do the math for you - that's over 12 meteors per minute. The Draconids, formerly called the Giacobinids, come from our encounter with the orbit of comet Giacobini-Zinner, which passes our way every 6.6 years. Every time it orbits the sun it lays down a stream of particles, kind of like a family in a car throwing litter out the window as they go along. Most years, we pass through the streams without touching them, or just grazing them. This year, we are predicted to have a head-on encounter with three of the streams!

In the late 1880s the comet had a close encounter with that big, bad boy of planets, Jupiter, which altered its course and made predicting its streams uncertain. But in 1933 there were over 10,000 Draconids per hour reported, and also large outbursts in 1946 and lesser ones in 1985, 1998, and 2005. So, this is predicted to be a big year. As always, there is a fly in the ointment, or rather a moon in the sky. The moon will be nearly full on the 8th, and it's light will block all but the brigthest meteors, considerably reducing the number visible even should a meteor strom occur. Still, it could be quite a nice sight nonetheless.

The meteor shower is predicted to have a number of peaks, as the earth encounters the orbit of the streams throughout the night, starting at 8:00PM Israel local time through 1:00AM Sunday morning. Israel is perfectly placed for this display since it begins to occur early in the evening after Yom Kippur and continues for another five hours. In any case, we are much better than the US where the peaks all occur in broad daylight (and on Yom Kippur day).

To observe the meteor shower you can look anywhere in the sky. You should just have a clear horizon and as little additional light pollution as possible. Mitzpe Ramon, or any desert location in the Negev, will be perfect for this, but I don't expect many people to come down after Yom Kippur. Just go outside, if you have no other choice, and look up!

Comet Giacobini-Zinner, as seen in 1998.

You might also be interested in: Draconid Meteor Outburst


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What's that bright object in the east early in the evening?

We have been getting alot of this question by phone and email from sky watchers. That very bright object in the east-northeast just after the end of twilight is Jupiter, now shinning at magnitude -2.8 in the constellation Aries. It is so bright now that you can become gobsmacked just looking at it from a dark sky. Jupiter will come to opposition on October 28th, when it will rise as the sun sets and be in the sky all night long. In a telescope Jupiter now presents the largest planetary disk of all the planets in the solar system, 48" of arc in diameter. This disk is, of course, to small to see with the naked eye, but it may be just visible in 10x binoculars. In a telescope it looks gigantic at high power.

If you have binoculars, be sure not to miss the 4 Galilean moons -- Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto -- at least some of which are easy to spot in binoculars depending on their orbital location. You can watch their position change over the course of an hour, an example of a mini-solar system and gravity at work!

Jupiter, at center (over exposed), surrounded by the four Galilean satellites, named after their discoverer, Galileo Galelli.

And remember to "Keep on Looking up!"


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Galaxy Formation

We find ourselves in St. Louis for a wedding this coming Sunday as hurricane Irene barrels up the east coast. These amazing satellite photos of the hurricane remind me of models of galactic formation. Especially interesting is the counter-cyclonic motion of the outer edges of the storm.

Make sure you watch the time lapse video at the end.

http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/gsfc/6083128930/



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ninety Gerer Chasid Girls at a Star Party

We had a star party for 90 Gerer Chasid teenage girls in Mitzpe Ramon. Well, they had their own party as I, being male, was not really allowed to participate. However, I did get to stand by my telescope as they crushed it and me to death. It was a full moon night, so we looked at the moon. All the girls wanted to see stars, but there weren't many to show because of the bright light of the moon, plus running 90 girls through a telescope line is hard to manage. It should work better when I have my video cam up and running next month.

90 Gerer girls in the amphitheater near Har Gamal

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ben, Michal and Harel from Switzerland

We welcomed Ben, Michal and their 8 1/2 year old son Harel to the dark skies of Mitzpe Ramon tonight. The moon is approaching new, so it made no appearance in tonight's sky. The IDF officer training facility had its bright lights off (finally). And the sky was starting to show the beginnings of the Delta-Aquarids meteor shower which peaks tomorrow night with about 5-8 meteors per hour tonight.

We did the grand tour of the summer constellations and I was surprised to find that the family traveled with not one but two copies of H. A. Rey's famous book "The Stars", This is the single best book on viewing the constellations ever written, and was even praised by the likes of Albert Einstein. I had to stay on my toes! We had been talking about Cassiopeia and the fact that almost everyone who points out the constellation just points to the "W" which is supposed to represent the throne the Queen sits on. I was sure that H.A. Rey would have some clever way of visualizing the entire constellation, but we were surprised when we looked it up that even the great man himself was stumped by Cassiopeia and just left her as a hanging "W".

As usual I kept everyone up later than they planned but we had a fine time, despite the blustery wind.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Begins Today in the Northern Hemisphere

Summer begins today, June 21, in the northern hemisphere as the sun reaches the summer solstice. It is directly overhead at the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees, 26 minutes north latitude), the longest period of daylight and shortest period of night occurs today. From here on the days begin to get shorter. In Israel the summer solstice begins at 8:16PM local time.

Tropic of Cancer


Also, magical things happen this night:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight; (Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream")
 Titania



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Monday, June 20, 2011

"Blow, Winds, and Crack Your Cheeks" -- King Lear

Lunar libration. see below for more descriptionsImage via WikipediaWe went up with Barbara and Harvey Brown tonight, they from Jolly Olde England, to whit, Londontown. The highlight of the night was the gibbous moon, suddenly rising as a great, orange, half-eaten tangerine. The sky immediately brightens and long shadows are cast behind us on the observing plateau. The moon rises at a regal pace, first gigantic on the horizon then diminished as it reaches altitude. It was grand in the giant binoculars.

The wind blew at a good clip on the plateau, and all were well frozen before the end of the night. If you want to avoid looking like King Lear in the Storm, remember to bring warm clothes, even in the summer.

Harvey Brown and wife Barbara, looking like characters from King Lear, as the tangerine moon rises behind them over Machtesh Ramon.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Report on June 15 Total Lunar Eclipse

From the Negev in Israel the sight was spectacular. No clouds, perfectly transparent sky, all stages of the eclipse visible from 8:22 on. We had a star party, about 18 people coming from the hotels here, including one couple, Jay and Julia, who drove all the way down from Jerusalem! The best view was with my William Optics 22x70 giant binooculars. And it was incredible. I've never seen the moon look so 3D, like a giant balloon hanging in the sky that you could reach out and touch.


The eclipse was very dark, with some central reddening on the moon as the eclipse progressed. I would class the eclipse at 1 on the Danjon Scale. As totality came to an end the western edge seemed to become very ashen and grey, with the 3D effect even stronger. It was uncanny how it seemed to be set off in relief from the sky through the binoculars. As totality progressed it quickly became darker around us and in the sky, and everyone was impressed with as how we were able to see clear shadows before the eclipse, we could barely see each other now. The Milky Way made a special appearance, and the many dim stars around the moon, it being quite close to the Milky Way, stood out sharply. Everyone said it was a memorable experience they would never forget. 


We packed it in at around 12:30AM as fog began to roll in, making the ending partial phase of the eclipse look very spooky.


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Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad - New Israelite Weekly

We got a nice write-up in the Dutch, Jewish newspaper, "Nieuw Israelietisch Weekblad",  The New Israelite Weekly. Thanks to reporter Joanne Nihom for the mention.

The caption reads: "A look at the stars.
The desert provides a stunning view of the night
stars. Enjoy the wonders of the universe, learn
astronomy and experience spectacular and unforgettable hours
with astronomer Ira 
Machefsky"

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Did You See Us in Today's Jerusalem Post?

Our interview about last night's total lunar eclipse made front page news in today's Jerusalem Post! Did you see it? Thanks to all who have helped to make us a success!!


Starman says Israel has best seat for total lunar eclipse



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

Speaking of all of the volcanic eruptions occurring around the world, Mt. Puyehue in Chile erupted on June 6th, showing that Mother Nature is not happy about something. Look out below!

Puyehue erupts with stunning force. (Click for full size image. ABC News photo.)

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Halachic Intricacies of Kiddush Levana During a Total Lunar Eclipse

Total eclipseImage via Wikipedia
I received a phone call last week from the publisher of the OU journal "Torah Tidbits". He had seen my post on the upcoming total eclipse of the moon and had discovered some interesting halachic intricacies having to do with saying Kiddush Levana (the blessing of the moon) in a month with a total lunar eclipse.

Usually one can say Kiddush Levana as long as the moon is waxing, including the entire night of the full moon. However an interesting exception comes into play when a total lunar eclipse occurs. The exception is as follows: If one personally witnesses the total lunar eclipse, and if one understands what a total lunar eclipse means, i.e. that the moon has reached its fullest light, then as soon as the eclipse begins, one can no longer say Kiddush Levana.

The intriguing part of this halacha is that BOTH conditions must apply. One must both experience the eclipse and know what it means. If either condition alone applies, then one can continue to say Kiddush Levana the entire night. It is unusual for both the experiencing of an event and an understanding of it to be required in halacha. For example, Pesach begins at a certain time, whether or not one experiences the full moon of Nissan or even knows what it means.

I hope I have conveyed this correctly. If not, all of the errors are mine.

(Caution: I am not a Rabbi or a halachic authority.) :)

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Ubbi's Eruption Makes Beautiful Sunset Colors and Bodes Well for Tomorrow's Total Lunar Eclipse

Mt. Ubbi in Eritrea, dormant since 1861, erupted this week, sending its cloud of volcanic ash, aerosols, and little glass beads into the upper atmosphere of the Middle East, where it created the beautiful sunset seen today in these photos from Mitzpe Ramon. There have been an unusually large number of recent volcanic eruptions, which usually create atmospheric conditions for very dark total lunar eclipses, since the volcanic ash tends to block sunlight from being refracted through the earth's atmosphere onto the eclipsed surface of the moon. But these things can be quite unpredictable, since volcanic materials high in the atmosphere can also create beautiful colors as the sun's rays are scattered through them. All of this makes the June 15 lunar eclipse all the more intriguing. Be sure to watch; anything can happen! And Keep on lookin' up!






Pre-eclipse moon rising during sunset on June 14, 2011
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Lunar Eclipse Star Party Update for June 15-16 in Mitzpe Ramon

We will be out in full force for the upcoming total lunar eclipse on June 15-16, Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. We will be setting up at the Alpaca Farm parking lot, a nice, large, flat area in the hidden valley where the Alpaca Farm is located. It is very easy to get to. Follow the main road in Mitzpe Ramon (Ben Gurion Boulevard) through town and keep going straight where it exits the town. You will see signs for the Alpaca Farm. After a few kilometers, the road has a right turn and a left turn and also continues straight ahead. Turn right, following the signs to the Alpaca Farm. The road dead ends in the parking lot. Metropoline Bus 60 (www.metropoline.com or *5900 from any phone) goes to Mitzpe Ramon from Beer-Sheva, and during certain hours it even goes to the Alpaca Farm. Ask the driver if he does. If you need a ride to the Alpaca Farm from town or from the hotels give us a call at 052 544 9789. Remember the desert can be cold and windy at night so dress appropriately if you want to stay warm.

We will be out from about 8:00 PM to 1:00 AM. The first "bite" of the earth's shadow can be seen starting at 9:22PM, and totality begins at 10:22PM, lasting until Midnight, making this one of the longest total lunar eclipses possible. And remember, you can watch the eclipse from anywhere in Israel if you can't make it to Mitzpe Ramon!

We will have our telescopes, binoculars and giant binoculars available for use, or BYOT! Special rates for this special event apply: 50nis per adult, children under 13 no charge. Hope to see you there!!

The Alpaca Farm parking lot is located at "A", just a few kilometers behind Mitzpe Ramon.



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