Sometimes, when you look out the window on a clear night you see something unexpected.
Sometimes, what you see is rather startling… like an orange Moon.
Unfortunately, my digital camera is rather ancient and is not ideal for photographing the Moon.
But the photographs [above] do provide a rough indication of the strong colour effect that lasted for about 15 minutes.
A quick look at the lunar calendar told me the Full Moon occurred on the 16th March at 17:09 UT and that the first lunar eclipse of 2014 is not scheduled until 15th April.
However, the Moon does pass through the Earth’s magnetotail during the Full Moon period and it is just possible that tonight I witnessed the Moon exiting the Earth’s magnetotail.
“Earth’s magnetotail extends well beyond the orbit of the Moon and, once a month, the Moon orbits through it,” says Tim Stubbs, a University of Maryland scientist working at the Goddard Space Flight Center.
“This can have consequences ranging from lunar ‘dust storms’ to electrostatic discharges.”
Anyone can tell when the Moon is inside the magnetotail.
Just look: “If the Moon is full, it is inside the magnetotail,” says Stubbs.
“The Moon enters the magnetotail three days before it is full and takes about six days to cross and exit on the other side.”
Earth’s Magnetic Field Does Strange Things to the Moon
See: Cosmic Ray Blues – The Bloody Moon
On the other hand, it is possible that I just witnessed a localised atmospheric phenomenon as I looked up at the Moon over Malaga Bay.
Hopefully, the internet will provide me with the answer in the morning… and some better pictures.