Expired News - Science Pictures of the Week: A lunar eclipse from both sides, halos in the sky and a dark filament tears away from the Sun - The Weather Network
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Science Pictures of the Week: A lunar eclipse from both sides, halos in the sky and a dark filament tears away from the Sun

Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, April 6, 2015, 9:15 AM - A total lunar eclipse from both Earth and the Moon, two halos in the sky and a massive eruption from the Sun puts aurora watches on alert. It's Science Pictures of the Week!

Lunar Eclipse from 'Both Sides'

If you missed Saturday morning's total lunar eclipse, either due to timing or weather, here's it is, from start to finish, in one image:

Image credits: Griffith Observatory. Edited by Scott Sutherland

Why didn't the moon turn completely red? Why is this considered a total lunar eclipse even though part of the moon is still grey/white? Apparently, since the moon was passing through the 'top' edge of the Earth's umbra, a bit of pure sunlight filtered through the top of the atmosphere to fall onto that part of the moon. However, the moon was fully immersed in the umbra at the time.

Now, have you ever wondered what a lunar eclipse would look like from the other side?

This is only a simulation, since we hadn't quite had the timing down for missions to the moon to capture this view for real, but the image below shows what it would look like from the surface of the moon as it passed into the Earth's shadow:

Image credits: NASA's Goddard Visualization Studio. Edited by Scott Sutherland

NASA's Black Marble is used for the Earth, which reveals continents and cities, but the face of the Earth would likely be pitch black. However, the red glow around the Earth is something we'd actually see. That's the filtered, red-shifted sunlight that forms the umbra and the reason why the Moon turns red during an eclipse (see the colour of the terrain at the bottom of the image). NASA calls this "every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once."

MISS IT? Did you miss Saturday's total lunar eclipse? Watch it right from here

Halos in the Sky (Two of 'Em!)

Sun halos and Moon halos are very cool to witness, but how about two in one day?

These halos are caused by the light from the Sun and Moon passing through ice crystals high up in the atmosphere. The hexagonal shape of these crystals 'bends' the light, at an angle of at least 22 degrees, away from the source of the light. Thus, the region of the sky inside that 22 degrees is darker than the area outside, and since the majority of the light is focused at the 22 degree distance, it looks like there's a halo.

RELATED: An amazing display: the science behind rare multiple sun halos

Aurora Alert! Giant Filament Tears Away from the Sun

For several days now, a long filament of solar matter has been tracking across the face of the Sun, and although things have been quiet otherwise, scientists have been keeping a careful eye on this dark giant.

In the evening of Saturday, April 4, the trailing edge of the filament finally made its move, tearing away from the surface of the Sun and flinging itself out into space.

Dr. Tamitha Skov, a space weather expert, revealed how this went down in her Twitter feed, also giving us a view of what the resulting coronal mass ejection will be doing when it reaches Earth.

What will the solar storm do when it encounters Earth's magnetic field? Most likely we'll have a geomagnetic storm, possibly just like the one that erupted just a few weeks ago, on March 17.

While geomagnetic storms are harmless, they can cause issues with satellite signals (possibly interfering with GPS, phone and internet services) and radio transmissions, and very rarely, for especially strong storms, they can cause problems with power grids on the ground, resulting in blackouts.

The best part about them? A geomagnetic storm can spark intense auroral displays at both poles, and these can extend much farther away from the poles than usual, giving many of us a rare glimpse at these spectacular shows!

Update: This particular CME has been predicted to miss Earth entirely, reducing the chances of heightened auroral activity on Wednesday night down to near zero.

However, a second filament eruption on Monday night is on a path that appears to strike a glancing blow on Earth's magnetic field on Thursday.

CME propagation from the Sun (centre) towards the Earth (green dot). Credit: NOAA

NOAA space weather forecasters are predicting a G1 (weak) geomagnetic storm between 5 pm and 8 pm ET, on April 9, with conditions gradually quieting during the night. The timing may be off for Canadians to see much from this, but more information will be available on Thursday.

RELATED: Spectacular auroras highlight the dangers and wonders of our solar system

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