Thursday, February 26, 2009

Earthal Eclipse?

[Friday, February 27, 2009, 11 am Thai time]

My son sent me a link to slashdot, which linked to the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency site with this picture of what they call a Lunar Eclipse. (There's lots of other good stuff there including diagrams.) This was taken from the moon with the earth blocking the sun. There's also this link to a video of the event. Be patient, it is all black at the beginning.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation (NHK) successfully took moving images of the precise Earth rise moment when the Earth looked like a diamond ring using the onboard high definition camera (HDTV) of the lunar explorer "KAGUYA" (SELENE) on February 10, 2009 (Japan Standard Time, all the following dates and times are Japan Standard Time.) The moment came when a penumbral lunar eclipse occurred and sunlight was covered by the Earth. During that time, since the view of the Sun from the KAGUYA was mostly covered by the Earth, the KAGUYA observed that the Earth looked like a diamond ring. This is the first time that this phenomenon was shot from the Moon.

Moonconnection compares a lunar eclipse to a solar eclipse and says that:
A "lunar eclipse" and a "solar eclipse" refer to events involving three celestial bodies: the Sun ("solar"), the moon ("lunar"), and the Earth. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, and the Earth's shadow obscures the moon or a portion of it. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, blocking all or a portion of the Sun. [emphasis added]

But this is a new event, at least for humans. OK, it fits their lunar eclipse definition because the earth is between the sun and the moon. But it fits a solar eclipse because the sun, not the moon, is blocked.

It goes on to say that:

A lunar eclipse occurs at night and a solar eclipse occurs during the day.
From the perspective of the moon, it was day, except for when the earth blocked the sun.

I say we find a unique name for this sort of eclipse. I first thought earthal (though I think that sounds clunky, I couldn't find a synonym for 'earth' that sounded better, except maybe "Gaian"). Since the sun is blocked by the earth, maybe this should be a "Gaian Solar Eclipse."

But there would also be a time when, watching from the moon, the moon's shadow blocks out the earth (is it big enough to make a total eclipse?) Since the earth would blocked in this case, this could be a Gaian Eclipse.

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