IATE term of the week: Lunar eclipse

October 2, 2015 9:19 am

Lunar eclipse

Last Sunday, 27 September we experienced a pretty rare celestial phenomenon, a particular kind of total lunar eclipse which, according to NASA experts, will not occur again before 2033!  A lot has been written in the press and on the social media during this last week about this amazing phenomenon and they attribute many names to it, such as supermoon total eclipse, super blood moon eclipse, supermoon lunar eclipse or even blood red supermoon eclipse! But what is it actually that makes this eclipse so special and rare?

The answer is simple. Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types – total, partial and penumbral –, with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which the Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. What we experienced last Sunday was a total eclipse. The moon may turn red or coppery coloured during the total portion of an eclipse. The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through the Earth’s atmosphere and is bent toward the moon. “The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere,” according to NASA scientists. “If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red.”

People were so enthusiastic about this lunar eclipse that hundreds of thousands of photos circulated on social media, mainly Facebook with NASA organising even a Best full moon Eclipse photo contest on its official Facebook page!

Consequently, since lunar eclipse has been on the news and social media the past week, TermCoord has selected the term “lunar eclipse” as the IATE term of the week. According to the Oxford Dictionary the lunar eclipse stands for “an eclipse in which the moon appears darkened as it passes into the earth’s shadow.”

Lunar eclipse IATE

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If you want to know more about the next lunar eclipse, you can watch the Next Total Lunar Eclipse in 2033 video.

 

Related Terminology Resources

The Astronomy Thesaurus

Astronomy and Geophysics Glossary

Astronomy acronyms

Astronomy glossary

 

Written by Georgia NTAI
Communication Trainee at Termcoord
Student at the University of Luxembourg

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