Lunar eclipse, meteor shower in December

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


FILIPINOS will be treated with two celestial phenomena just before the year ends, the state weather bureau said Tuesday.

In its astronomical diary, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the annual Geminids meteor shower and a partial lunar eclipse will occur on December 14 and December 21, respectively.

“Meteors can be seen at an average rate of 60 meteors per hour under a dark and cloudless sky. The shower will appear to radiate from the constellation of Gemini, the Twins, which will be located in the eastern horizon,” said Pagasa officer-in-charge Nathaniel Servando.

Pagasa also encouraged stargazers to document their observations and send it to the International Meteor Organization site, www.imo.net.

The total lunar eclipse, on the other hand, will be visible in the Philippines from 1:29 p.m. to 7:04 p.m. (Manila time) on December 21.

Servando said the entire event is visible from North America to western South America while observers along South America's east coast will miss the final stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset.

Likewise, most parts of Europe and Africa will experience moonset while the eclipse is in progress. Only northern Scandinavians can observe the entire event from Europe.

In Eastern Asia including the Philippines, people can only see the late stages of the eclipse in time for the moonrise. The eclipse however could not be viewed from south and east Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

Unlike a solar eclipse, Servando said a lunar eclipse is safe to watch and observers need not use any kind of protective filters in the eyes.

“A pair of binocular will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration of the Moon brighter,” he added.

The phenomenon occurs when the moon passes behind the earth, effectively blocking the sun's rays from striking the moon. This celestial event however only happens during a full moon and usually occurs twice a year.

A lunar eclipse was partially visible in Philippine skies last June 26. The next lunar eclipses are scheduled on June 11 and December 10, 2011.

Longer nights

Meantime, Pagasa said the public will experience longer nights starting December 22 due to the onset of Winter Solstice, marking the time when the sun lies at its farthest point south of the equator.

It also signals the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Philippine nights will be longer than daytime. Earth has now completed another annual circuit around the Sun,” Pagasa said.

Earlier, the state weather bureau said a colder weather will prevail until February due to northeast monsoon or habagat. Pagasa said temperatures are expected to go down to as low as 18 to 19 degrees Celsius in the lowlands. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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