Book A Star Tour Now

book now


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

Enhanced by Zemanta

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 - (
Join Space IL - (

Enhanced by Zemanta

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

Enhanced by Zemanta


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...