There's A Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight, Here's How To Watch It

Tonight, across Australia, when the moon rises, you won't be able to see it. There's a total lunar eclipse happening for around an hour between 5:30PM and 6:30PM -- here's everything you need to know to watch it happening across the country.

Image via Shutterstock

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is perfectly aligned between the moon and the sun, with the moon hiding behind Earth in its umbra. Lunar eclipses aren't especially rare -- definitely not as rare as solar eclipses -- and there are four total eclipses happening in the next 16 months. They are quite cool, though, and this is the first total eclipse since December 2011.

If you're in one of Australia's capital cities that isn't Perth, Sydney Observatory has a simple explanation of when the eclipse will start, when it will be at its most brilliant, and when it will end:

Adelaide: The Moon rises at 5.48pm; total eclipse ends at 5.55pm; the eclipse ends at 7.03pm.

Brisbane: The Moon rises at 5.27pm; maximum eclipse is at 5.46pm; total eclipse ends at 6.25pm; the eclipse ends at 7.33pm.

Darwin: The Moon rises at 6.41pm; the eclipse ends at 7.33pm.

Hobart: The Moon rises at 5.33pm; maximum eclipse is at 5.46pm; total eclipse ends at 6.25pm; the eclipse ends at 7.33pm.

Melbourne: The Moon rises at 5.49pm; total eclipse ends at 6.25pm; the eclipse ends at 7.33pm.

Sydney: The Moon rises at 5.28pm; maximum eclipse is at 5.46pm; total eclipse ends at 6.25pm; the eclipse ends at 7.33pm.

The best way to watch the April 15th lunar eclipse is to find a good vantage point pointing eastward, ideally over the sea, with a good telescope pointing at the horizon. In Sydney, for example, the moon will start to rise above the horizon at 5:28PM, but won't be fully risen before total eclipse starts at 5:46PM. When the total eclipse ends at 6:25PM, the moon will still only be 10 degrees above the horizon, so you won't ever be able to see the entire moon in total eclipse, but it should still be pretty spectacular.

If you want to photograph the lunar eclipse, you have two choices. The first is to get your digital SLR or digital camera with the longest lens that you own -- at least a 300mm focal length is recommended, but 500mm or higher is even better -- and a heavy, solid tripod with a smooth pan head. An appropriate telescope would be even better, with a camera adaptor if you want to take some timelapse photographs as well.

When the moon is completely shrouded in shadow, it'll be very dark, so longer exposures will be needed -- this is where the high ISO setting on your camera, and a remote shutter release to avoid vibration, will come in handy.

Here's NASA's take on the tetrad of lunar eclipses that kicks off with tonight's event.

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    Perth misses out again. SCREW YOU MOON!!!

    *shakes fist at the sky*

      Yeah someone should teach that moon a lesson by shrinking it or something...


        We go to ze moon, we shrink ze moon, we sit on ze toilet........wait, what?

        Classic Gru

      I seem to recall you got the last ( or close to last) total solar eclipse in Australia. Not a bad trade I think. Besides, Skylab thought you were worth dropping in on:)

      I think its got a slight yellow hue? I dunno, there's a tree in the way.

    Across Australia hey?

      Halfway across

        eh dont worry, high chance that it will be overcast and pissing down rain on the east coast so we wont get to see it anyway

          Nope. No rain in Melbourne and beautiful blue skies.

    Is Canberra no longer a capital city? It is THE capital city!

      Lets be serious, Canberra isn't a real city, it's just a place for politicians to meet and ruin our country (ie. our actual cities).

        Actually, I think someone drew my map wrong. It's probably not less, but it sure is similar.

        Thanks for you input 'timmaaa' however it's quite a narrow-minded and ill informed opinion. Firstly could you please enlighten me as to what constitutes a "real city" and how to differentiate a 'real city' from a 'fake city'. Canberra is the capital of Australia. Regardless of it's political prominence, there are plenty of other aspects to Canberra that you decided not to mention, e.g. lowest unemployment in Australia, highest average income city.


          It was a joke.

          I live in Melbourne. I love living in Melbourne.

          ...Melbourne isn't a real city, it's just a place where hipsters meet and ruin our country. (ie. our actual cities)

          See how neither my life nor anyone else's has changed? Don't be an asshole. Be less angry about stupid things you don't get.

          Last edited 15/04/14 7:58 pm

      There's only 1 minute or less in times between Brisbane and Sydney. Considering there is less east/west distance between Sydney and Canberra than there is between Brisbane and Sydney, maybe they thought that Canberrans were smart enough to work it out for themselves.

      I was going to post the exact same thing!!

      Canberra is like the redhead of capital cities, no soul....

      Wow. I keep forgetting about Canberra. All the other states and territories come to mind but I always forget there's a Canberra. I know it's in the middle somewhere but couldn't actually point it out on a map unless it's name is printed on said map. It's like the forgotten state. Could be because you never hear anything about it.

    What about Canberra? Not the capital of anything....

      Also see above.

    And they leave out the Nations Capital !!! Bigger than Darwin or Hobart - maybe they should change their name to Sydney Unobservatory

    Lol DAMN fb been standing outside foe an hour waiting to see it

    We've had nothing but overcast and rain for the past week here, but it finally cleared up today and it's blue skies as far as the eye can see! Hopefully it stays like this for tonight, it should prove an amazing sight!

      Assuming you're in Sydney, it's supposed to start bucketing down about 4 p.m. and keep going throughout the night.

        Actually in NZ lol, but scarily the weather turned and went horrible at around 4pm too :p

    When the total eclipse ends at 6:25PM, the moon will still only be 10 degrees above the horizon, so you won’t ever be able to see the entire moon in total eclipse...
    Sorry, I believe that's wrong. The angular size of the moon, as observed from Earth, is approximately 0.5 degree, so 10 degrees is about 20 lunar diameters.

    Otherwise, a really useful article!

    and why does it always happen at night
    i need my sleep ...

      You're not really serious, asking that question are you? Just a joke, I hope. Good one.

    Whew good ting im in da usa!

    hey when does it happen

    Your table shows Darwin's eclipse end time as matching BNE/SYD/MLB, however Adelaide and Darwin's times (or at least the Eclipse End Time) should be the same; they're both 30 minutes behind the Australian eastern seaboard (GMT +9:30 vs GMT+10).

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