Dunsink Lane, Dublin 15, D15 XR2R

Viewing the Total Lunar Eclipse 2018

A guest blog by Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU) about the Lunar Eclipse of 2018.

Lunar Eclipse seen from California in 2014. Image Credit: NASA Ames Research Center/Brian Day

Over a hundred people visited DIAS Dunsink Observatory in spite of a thick blanket of cloud on Friday 27th July, the evening of the Total Lunar Eclipse. Total Lunar Eclipses happen when the Moon passes through the shadow of the Earth when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned linearly. This was the longest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century, unfortunately not visible from these shores (Ireland). The Blood Moon occurs because the Earth’s Atmosphere scatters blue light much more strongly than red light, stopping much of the blue light from reaching the Moon.  The atmosphere also refracts (bends) the light that then shines onto the Moon, giving it a reddish-orange colour.

Plaque commemorating Thomas Grubb.

Unfortunately as the clouds didn’t lift to allow the planned viewing to go ahead our evening event at DIAS Dunsink Observatory turned into a very social “viewing event”. Sam Green (DIAS) was in our Solar Room talking to visitors both young and old about meteors and meteor cameras. John Flannery from the Irish Astronomical Society (IAS) was in our Meridian Room giving talks about different eclipses and answering many questions. After his talk, John showed our visitors the South Dome which houses the 150 year old Grubb Telescope. On Monday 30th July a new plaque was unveiled commemorating Thomas Grubb at the site of the old foundry beside the Construction Industry Federation near Rathmines.

John Flannery (IAS) showing a live stream of the lunar eclipse from Al Sadeem Astronomy Observatory. (Credit: Mario De Lucia)

Our visitors were led across the DIAS Dunsink Observatory grounds and down behind Dunsink House to a location where the telescopes would have been set up to view the Lunar Eclipse had the clouds lifted. Sam Green was able to add to the evening by live streaming the Lunar Eclipse, and there was a full house back in the Meridian Room as John Flannery gave an informative commentary. Throughout the evening visitors were free to explore Dunsink Observatory and discuss the Historical Relevance of Dunsink Observatory and the people who have carried out their research here. This evening was carried out with help of PhD student volunteers and others from the Astronomy and Astrophysics section of the School of Cosmic Physics part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). These volunteers included Sam Green, Maria Moutzouri (DIAS), Mario Delucia (DIAS) and Qi Qi Kennedy (DCU). During the evening our visitors said they were amazed that Dunsink was located so close to the city and they marvelled at the wonderful views of the city from the location.

John Flannery (IAS) leading visitors to the South Dome as the clouds loom. (Credit: Qi Qi Kennedy)

Unfortunately the Lunar Eclipse was not visible from Dunsink Observatory but the evening seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. Thank you to everyone for joining us. Our Public Outreach Programme will be starting in September, keep eye on the website and social media:

Things to note

Reported by Qi Qi Kennedy.