Physics Photo of the Week

Warren Wilson College

October 29, 2004

It was planned to post photos of the Oct. 27-28 total lunar eclipse, but the weather didn't cooperate.  Here are some photos of the Lunar Eclipse from almost a year ago to show what we should have seen!

Lunar Eclipse November 8-9, 2003

Warren Wilson College

The weather was partly cloudy, some good shots of the ingress of the moon into earth's shadow. The total phase was blocked by clouds. Photos by Donald Collins - special thanks to the WWC Biology Department for loan of Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera. Telescope was Meade non-computerized telescope.

In the two images below, which image shows the moon in partial eclipse during a full moon and which image shows the moon as it appears when it is closer to the sun than the earth?  Choose your answers before looking below.

The Right hand picture is a picture of the moon entering the earth's shadow on Nov. 9, 2003.  Larger photos below:

7:20 pm Eastern Time

7:28 pm Eastern time

7:35 pm Eastern time

Compare the images above of the moon entering the earth's shadow with the crescent phase of the moon seen every month in the photo below.  A common misconception among many people is that the crescent shape below is caused by the moon entering the earth's shadow.  However, the pictures above show how large the shadow of the earth is relative to the moon when the moon enters eclipse.  The crescent moon in the photo by Jesse Paluch in Feb. 2003 is caused by the moon being between the earth and the sun.

A very successful lunar eclipse viewing occured in May, 2003.  Click here for images.

Physics Photo of the Week is published weekly during the academic year on Fridays by the Warren Wilson College Physics Department.  These photos feature an interesting phenomena in the world around us.  Students, faculty, and others are invited to submit digital (or film) photographs for publication and explanation.  Atmospheric phenomena are especially welcome.  Please send any photos to

Click here to see all Physics Photo of the Week for 2004.