Nothing alarming about penumbral eclipses: expert

MANILA — An expert allayed fears about the Sept. 17 penumbral lunar eclipse, saying it is a normal celestial event.

“It’s not something to be feared,” said Dario dela Cruz, astronomy chief of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

He gave such assurance, aware of the global centuries-oldassociation between eclipses, fear and superstition.

Dela Cruz said penumbral eclipses occur when the moon passes through the ‘penumbra’ which is the faint or lighter part of Earth’s shadow.

“Such and other eclipses are natural celestial occurrences,” he said.

A penumbral eclipse will happen anew next week from 12:52 a.m. to 4:56 a.m. (Philippine Standard Time), he noted.

“It’ll be 2016’s third penumbral eclipse,” he said.

Previous penumbral eclipses this year were on Aug. 18 and March 23, he recalled.

“The eclipse next week will be the last of its kind for 2016,” he said.

He noted available data on movement of Earth and its moon make it possible to calculate when future eclipses will occur.

According to PAGASA, this month’s penumbral eclipse can be observed in Australasia, Africa, Europe, South America’s eastern part and Asia, including the Philippines.

“During such eclipse, the entire moon will take on a yellowish color before becoming whitish again,” said dela Cruz.

He said the moon’s color also shifted from whitish to yellowish then back to whitish during penumbral eclipses in August and March this year.

“Change in the moon’s color during penumbral eclipses are hardly noticeable to the untrained eye, however,” he noted.

Dela Cruz said next week’s eclipse will be visible if the country experiences good weather.

Overcast skies and rain will prevent people from observing the celestial show, he added. Catherine Teves/PNA/