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Lunar Eclipse Postcard

100×150mm (2000)

Postcard notifying of total lunar eclipse on July 16, 2000.

Produced by the newly formed Living World to advise of our move to new offices. But it occurred to us that if we were going to make these anyway, we might as well print a few extra and try selling them…so they were available for a very short time (2-3 weeks) at a handful of science museums and museum shops around the country.

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Back: The eclipse phases were stamped out at one end of the card.

The cards were accompanied by a small booklet on lunar eclipses.

The following is an extract:
A total eclipse of the moon will occur across an extensive area centered on the Pacific Rim and Asia. When this eclipse begins at 20:57, what will Earth look like from the moon?

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From the west coast of the United States, of which just a fraction can be glimpsed at top right, a full moon just starting to disappear may be visible near the western horizon.
The image below taken at 22:02 shows what Earth will look like when the moon is completely hidden.

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Having reappeared at 23:49, at around 00:53 the moon is full again.

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The three images above were produced using the Earth and Moon Viewer by John Walker.

Weather permitting, this lunar eclipse will be visible from all the locations included in these images: around 30 countries.

When you watch an eclipse, people all over the world are watching with you. There may be people looking up from their car windows while stopped at the lights, people out at sea somewhere, people standing in the Australian desert, all looking up at the sky.
What if next to the moon there was a counter in the sky, showing in realtime the number of people looking up at it…? It’s impossible to imagine the actual number, but whatever it may be, what an amazing experience to share.

Thinking about it though, we probably encounter the same sort of thing every day; but just don’t notice.

Once while traveling I was at a river’s edge idly watching the sun rise, and happening to glance across the bank into the distance, I spied a number of other people standing there, also looking at the sun. Hurrying to work, or walking the dog, they stopped in their tracks and gazed at the sun as it began to rise.

I suspect that right at this moment, there are many people all watching the sun rise or set somewhere, oblivious to each other. It’s wonderful really, all the different ways people can be connected.

In a total eclipse of the moon, such shared moments are produced on a grander scale. It’s a special form of communication, in which countless individuals in different places at different times of the day, through the moon, share the same time for a certain brief moment.

The shadow of Earth stretching out the side opposite to the sun is lost in the inky blackness of space, and never seen. On this day however, we can see the shadow of our planet falling on the surface of the moon 384,400km away. We too are in that shadow.

The diameter of the shadow is around three times the size of the moon. They say the shadow is not so much pitch black as a slightly reddish black. Sun, Earth and moon are roughly aligned at around 22:57.
A friend of mine keen on astronomy once told me, “Binoculars are better than a telescope for observing the heavens, especially for beginners. The moon actually looks round!”

So where, and how, will you spend this night? :-)
 

We set up camp on the veranda of IDEE CAFFE in Aoyama with our binoculars, a most relaxing way to enjoy the experience.

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Earth’s shadow falling on the moon

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