ObEquinox: Happy Turn Of The Seasons To You

The March equinox happened a little over an hour ago here in Sydney, at 9:45am AEST. APOD, of course, has an informative image for us today:

a photograph of Earth's moon showing a brightly sunlit crescent contrasted against the finally earthlit rest of the surface

Click through for clearer larger image on Astronomy Picture Of The Day – “in this well composed image of a young lunar phase from late January you can glimpse both night and day on the lunar surface, the night side faintly illuminated by Earthshine next to the day side’s brightly sunlit crescent”.

Explanation: Today’s date marks an Equinox and a New Moon. Remarkably, while the exact timing of both geocentric events occur within a span of only 13 hours, the moon also reaches its new phase only 14 hours after perigee, the closest point in its orbit. That makes the Equinox New Moon the largest New Moon of 2015, though hard to see since that lunar phase presents the Moon’s dark, night side to planet Earth. Still, in this well composed image of a young lunar phase from late January you can glimpse both night and day on the lunar surface, the night side faintly illuminated by Earthshine next to the day side’s brightly sunlit crescent. But some will see today’s Equinox New Moon in silhouette! The Equinox Solar Eclipse will be total across stretches of the Arctic Ocean, visible in partial phases from Europe, northern Africa and western Asia.

Gallery: Today’s solar eclipse

Tens of thousands of happy skygazers enjoyed the solar eclipse in the Northern Hemisphere, laughing at each other’s solar safety glasses and enjoying stories of ancient superstitions like banging drums and gongs to chase away the dragon that was eating the sun. Sadly, our world would not be complete without somebody in education being an arse about an extra-curricular event with scientific implications – the headmaster of a public school in Southall forbade all the pupils in his school from going outside to see the solar eclipse, caving to the wishes of some parents who said they had religious/cultural objections to people observing the eclipse directly. He claimed that viewing it on the TV news was an acceptable substitute. He also made the excuse that it didn’t matter since it was too cloudy to see it live in West London anyway, but going by what I saw myself on the TV news that wasn’t stopping thousands of other schoolchildren in London taking part in what could well be a once in a lifetime direct experience for them. Shame on him.



Categories: education, Science

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1 reply

  1. Whut? That’s just bizarre. Why on earth wouldn’t they just have had the kids for whom it was an issue (however nonsensical that might be) stay inside while the rest of the kids went out to watch?

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