Brief moon eclipse coming April 4, visible in Asia

MIAMI (AFP) - A brief total eclipse of the Moon may be visible on April 4 to skywatchers in western North America, Australia and East Asia, astronomers say.

The phenomenon occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are lined up so that the Moon passes through the Earth's shadow.

Unlike in the case of a solar eclipse, which requires skywatchers to wear protective equipment to protect their eyes, a lunar eclipse can be observed with the naked eye, or a pair of binoculars for a better view.

Sky and Telescope magazine described the eclipse as "unusually brief".

The first shadows should be visible at 0935 GMT (5.35pm Singapore time), and the total eclipse begins at 1134 GMT.

The Moon will be completely blocked for just about 12 minutes before dawn on Saturday, April 4 for those in North America, according to the US Naval Observatory.

Weather conditions permitting, the eclipse may be seen on the evening of April 4 for those in Australia and Asia.

People in Hawaii and New Zealand may be able to see the eclipse after nightfall, high in the sky.

Those in Australia, Japan, China and south-east Asia should look skyward in the evening of April 4.

"April 4th's total eclipse is unusual in that the Moon just barely skims through Earth's inner shadow, the umbra, and then only briefly," said Sky and Telescope.

"Because of this, the Moon's northeastern edge will remain much brighter than the deep red that is typically seen all across the eclipsed Moon's face."

Just about two weeks ago, some parts of the world were able to witness a total solar eclipse.

The April 4 event marks the third of four total lunar eclipses in 2014 and 2015, each about six months apart.

The last lunar eclipse was on Oct 8.

The next lunar eclipse will happen Sept 27.

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