Think back to July 2018, when during a long heat wave with the majority of evening’s fine, it was greatly frustrating to have apocalyptic weather for the total lunar eclipse on July 27th 2018. 

Almost a year on (July 16th 2019) another lunar eclipse would grace our skies and again would already be underway as the moon rose.  Not a total, but a partial eclipse.  This time however prospects looked encouraging with clear skies forecast.  Society members descended on the usual location – Cook’s headland well in time to set up the equipment, eventually deploying six scopes.

You got the feeling that it would be one of those evenings where public interest would be considerable, especially with conditions conducive for people to stay and by 21:30h many of the nearby seats were occupied.

Around 21:40h Jupiter was picked up in the twilight sky, becoming our first target.  People queued eagerly to view our largest planet.

It wasn’t until 21:50h we had our first glimpse of the Moon.  The initial stages of the eclipse, first and second contacts, had already occurred, before local moon rise, so it was already immersed in Earth’s umbral (deeper) shadow as it climbed over the SSE horizon.  Resembling a reddish/orange quarter moon in appearance, anyone who wasn’t aware it was supposed to be a full moon would have assumed it was just that!

Mid eclipse occurred around 22:30pm, by which time approximately 56% of the moon was in umbral shadow.  Shortly before this however we had our first fleeting glimpses of Saturn, playing hide and seek in the wispy broken cloud in that part of the sky low to the SE.  People were bowled over see the ring system, even though the image was not at its best due to the low altitude.  By 23:00h people began thinning out, so we as it was a week day we began packing up.

The moon would reach 4th contact around midnight, finally moving out of Earth’s Umbral shadow, with the penumbral phase ending shortly before 01:22h.

It had been an excellent evening, much enjoyed by all present.  Unloading at Mark’s house, there was one final surprise when the ISS was spotted crossing over, becoming more brilliant than Jupiter, rounding off the night in style.  Thanks to Elaine and Phil, Keith and John and especially Barbara and Mark for their assistance with equipment, loading and unloading.

Photos by Keith.  Click here to see more pictures in the Gallery.