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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Skywatchers eagerly awaiting Saturday's total lunar eclipse say that the spectacle could be the "best in years".

The eclipse begins at 2018 GMT, with the Moon totally immersed in the shadow of the Earth between 2244 and 2358 GMT.

During "totality", only light that has been filtered through the Earth's atmosphere reaches the Moon's surface, making it appear a reddish colour.

The eclipse will be visible from the whole of Europe, Africa, South America, and eastern parts of the US and Canada.

"They are beautiful events," said Robert Massey, spokesman for the UK's Royal Astronomical Society.

"They have a really romantic feel to them as you look up because the Moon, which is normally pearly white, takes on this reddish colour."

He added that it was totally safe to observe and no protective filters were needed because the Moon would actually be less bright than during a normal full moon.
See where the eclipse will be visible
Mr Massey encouraged everyone to witness the "spectacular" event.


Occurs when Moon passes into Earth's shadow

Penumbra: Region where Earth blocks some (but not all) Sun rays
Umbra: Zone where Earth blocks all direct sunlight - total eclipse

"It is like Mars suddenly coming a thousand times closer and just hanging there in the sky above you."

Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in a near-perfect line in space.
The Moon travels through the long cone-shaped shadow that the Earth casts in space. At totality, the only light reaching the Moon's surface at this point has been refracted through the Earth's atmosphere.

The appearance of the lunar surface varies according to how much dust is in the Earth's upper atmosphere. For example, following major volcanic eruptions, the Moon appears to be a deep red and almost invisible.

As there have not been any recent sizeable eruptions, astronomers are predicting that the Moon will be bathed in a bright orange light.

'Best in years'

Professional astronomers will also be enjoying the spectacle rather than worrying about any science, Mr Massey says.

Moon enters penumbra: 2018
Moon enters umbra: 2130
Totality begins: 2244
Mid-eclipse: 2321
Totality ends: 2358
Moon leave umbra: 0111
Moon leaves penumbra: 0224
(All times are in GMT)

"It is not like a solar eclipse where you get to see the outer atmosphere of the sun," explained Mr Massey.

"There were some people in the past who measured how different parts of the Moon cooled down as the Earth's shadow passed over it, but I doubt much of that work is going on now."
Robin Scagell, from the Society for Popular Astronomy, was hopeful that the event will be the "best in years".

"If the clouds stay away, it will be fascinating to watch the Moon's graceful movement through the shadow of the Earth," he said.

The last total eclipse visible from the UK was back in May 2004, but it was obscured by cloudy skies.

After Saturday's eclipse, the next to be seen over western Europe will take place on 21 February 2008, but in the middle of the night between 0300 GMT and 0400 GMT.


Friday, March 02, 2007

The Fool

Innocence and naivety are associated with The Fool, for the young have no fear of new experiences or change. As you grow older you can lose that childish innocence and enthusiasm, and can become fearful and cynical of change and new experiences.The mind of The Fool is always open, an empty vessel eagerly waiting to be filled with new knowledge.

Any experience, pleasant or challenging, is life knowledge that he accepts as part of his learning. The Fool does not sit on the fence waiting for life to come to him; he always takes the first step himself. The Fool does not analyze all the possible risks of a new adventure; he learns as he goes along.

The fearlessness and sheer enthusiasm associated with The Fool makes for quite a maverick character, and often this card can signify such a person, male or female, may step into your life. It is your attitude that influences the choices and decisions you make, and often your mind is so full of doubt and fear that you become closed-minded to the possibilities of change.

When The Fool appears, ask yourself how open-minded you are being at that moment in time, how enthusiastic are you about life, and do you desire new experiences and excitement but fear taking that first step? Any journey starts with the first step, and motivating yourself to take it is the hardest part.

The Fool encourages you to discover your inner child and harness that youthful enthusiasm to help you on your way to a new life and future. A time to exercise caution is when The Fool comes up as the first card in a reading for you. You may want to question your motives or judgment, since as this is the first card, it can indicate folly.

Perhaps you are motivated for the wrong reasons, so look before you leap. You will have to deal with many twists and turns, paths and crossroads on your life journey and The Fool can help as a sign post when you need to take a new path.