Total Eclipse of the Moon: 2007 March 03-04

Global Circumstances

Global Visibility of the Total Eclipse of the Moon on 2007 March 03-04

The global visibility of this lunar eclipse is shown in the diagram to the left. A higher quality version of this global plot can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking on this image.

An explanation of this diagram can be found here.


Eclipse Trivia

The total eclipse of the Moon on 2007 March 3-4 was favoured by good weather — something of a rarity in Oxfordshire. The night was cold and clear in Grove where I was observing with fellow eclipse watcher Dave Stickland. The light from the full moon washed out much of the constellation of Leo, however, Regulus and Saturn were still clearly visible forming a conspicuous rectangle with the second magnitude star Algieba (γ Leonis) and the third magnitude star Algenubi (ε Leonis).

The penumbral phase of the eclipse started at 20:16 UT although little sign of the penumbral shadow could be seen. Approaching from the 7 o'clock position, the umbral shadow started to cross the lunar disc at 21:30 UT. Over the ensuing hour and a quarter or so, the shadow moved upwards across the face of the Moon. It was clear that this eclipse would be quite dark at least for the lower half of the Moon's disc.

By 22:44 UT, the umbral shadow had engulfed the Moon and the majority of its visible hemisphere had taken on a coppery-red colour generated by sunlight filtered and refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. At the 12 o'clock position there was still a noticeably brighter sliver of the Moon's disc close to the edge of the umbral shadow cast by the Earth.

Over the next hour and quarter this bright area moved anti-clockwise around the disc to approximately the 9 o'clock position. The eclipse also became somewhat redder towards mid-eclipse. I made an estimate of the brightness of the lunar eclipse on the Danjon scale of between L=3 and L=4. The umbral shadow then started to retreat back across the lunar disc at 23:58 UT. As the Moon had dimmed by the better part of 10 magnitudes during the eclipse, it was very noticeable how much more of the night sky could be seen without the strong moonlight.

In the hour and a quarter or so after midnight, the umbral shadow moved back across the disc towards the 3 o'clock position. As the Moon became brighter, it became clear that fingers of cloud had started to cross the sky. At 1:12 UT, at the end of the partial phase of the eclipse, a 22° ice halo appeared around the Moon for a short time.

The fifth magnitude star 59 Leonis was occulted towards the end of the partial phase of the eclipse. This event was visible with the aid of binoculars from western parts of the United Kingdom as a short occultation or a grazing one in some parts. The occultation was also visible from France, Spain, Portugal, most of Africa except the southern part and north-eastern parts of North America.

Over the next hour and a quarter or so the sky slowly clouded over and the penumbral phase of the eclipse ended at 2:26 UT. The last total eclipse of the Moon occurred in the early hours of 2004 October 28. The next one visible from the United Kingdom will occur in the early hours of 2008 February 21. All in all, this was a beautiful eclipse, quite dark with a strong coppery-red tint and well worth the wait!

Steve Bell

Eclipses in 2007

Eclipses within two years of 2007

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