NOAO < EDUCATION < ASTRO Chile: Lunar Eclipse

Lunar Eclipse (2004)

The moon in total eclipse as seen from Chile on October 27, 2004.

Through support of a local network of schools, called Red de Estudiantes de La Serena or “RedLaSer” in La Serana, Chile, a group of students, teachers, parents and astronomers utilized modern technology on a geometrical method developed by the ancient Greeks for determining the distances and sizes of the Sun and Moon. The observing program was very meticulously engineered. It took a lot of considerable preparation and coordination. It included measurements of the Sun-Moon angular separation a week in advance and on the night of the lunar eclipse, observations of the eclipse with telescopes, a Webcam, photography, binoculars, and naked-eye by teams of students. Each team applied the same reduction method to their dataset, and then the results from the different observing techniques were inter-compared.

The Chilean students also participated in a star counting experiment, counting stars in a well-known constellation from a dark sky site over the course of the eclipse. The students then repeat the count from the city, and determine what fraction of full Moon gives the same light pollution as city lights. They also used a sky brightness meter at both locations as well.

David Orellana, a leader of the RedLaSer group and organizer of the lunar eclipse event and activities in Chile, reported on the night of the lunar eclipse:

“I’m writing to report on the lunar eclipse activity. [We had] good weather with a little fog at times at our site. Twenty participating students were chosen by means of a little test in basic geometry. These students attended two introductory sessions about the project. Measurements were made by 6 groups of 3 or 4 students, using 3 pairs of binoculars and 2 telescopes. They also carried out the light pollution exercise during the total eclipse. [We] presented slide shows on a big portable screen for everyone attending. We were accompanied to the site by parents and teachers of the students and by a CTIO astronomer [Alan Whiting, from the photos]. Also present were teams from two of the national TV channels, and the mayor of La Serena. We got back to town about 00:30 in the morning, tired but very pleased.”


The Moon at total eclipse as seen from Chile on October 27, 2004.

Group picture of the participants in the lunar eclipse activity in Chile.

Children in Chile taking data for the lunar eclipse activity.

The parents of the children in Chile doing the lunar eclipse activity.

The children discussing the measurements from the lunar eclipse activity in Chile.

The press at the lunar eclipse activity in Chile.





Contact the staff of ASTRO-Chile:

Connie Walker, Tucson Site Director

Kathie Coil, EPO Program Coordinator

FAX: 520-318-8451