PHYSOC: Lunar Eclipse 28.09.15

In the earlier hours of Monday morning, on28th September, nearly 70 students attended  PHYSOC’s, The Aberystwyth University’s Physics Society, Lunar eclipse event!

Many people were able to witness this spectacular event which was visible from much of America, Europe, Africa and the middle east.

This event was made even more special by the fact that it coincided with a Super Moon, or as its scientifically known, a Perigee Moon. Super Moon’s occur when the moon makes its closest approach to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, the Moon would have appeared up to 14% larger in diameter and 30% brighter.

Jamie Dumayne, a Physics Student at Aberystwyth and Treasurer of PHYSOC, tells us a little about the event.

In the early hours of the morning on Monday 28th September there was a big event in the lunar calendar, a lunar eclipse. This is when the Earth gets in between the Moon and the Sun. When the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow (the Umbra) the only light that falls on the Moon is light that refracts through the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the Moon to turn red.

As this is a big event, the physics society borrowed severaltelescopes from the university and put together an event for students to come along and watch the eclipse. The university owns a field above Aberystwyth that they let us use for astronomy nights, because it’s above the town it’s perfectly suited for our needs as there is very little light pollution.

We had a very successful night with roughly 70 people present. We also had perfect weather conditions for it, so we could see everything clearly; from the shadow of the earth slowly creeping across the Moon’s face and dulling its brilliant white, right up to the browny-red colour of the total eclipse.

This really was spectacular to witness, especially as it could be viewed easily with the naked eye but could also be seen vividly through the telescopes. What made this lunar eclipse particularly special is that it coincided with a super full moon, the last one happened in 1982 and the next isn’t going to occur until 2033. The Moon has an elliptical orbit, a super full moon occurs when the moon is at its closest point (the perigee) to the Earth, this causes the Moon to be 16% brighter and 7% bigger in the nights sky than an average moon. The occurrence of these two events at the same time is quite rare, so it was a privilege to be able to experience this as a society.

The physics society (Physoc) are a student run society that anyone who has an interest in any area of physics can join. We have weekly socials as well as our astronomy nights. We don’t have a regular pattern for out astronomy nights, but we try to do them as often as possible (weather permitting). This year we’re also hoping to put together trips to several observatories across the UK as well as various other locations.

All of the information about our events is on our facebook page

Here some of the images captured by PHYSOC: