Lunar Eclipse Jan 2019

This morning, I woke up at 4am, dragged my geeky body out of bed, grabbed a coffee and braved the freezing Yorkshire air to observe the eclipse.

Our ancient ancestors had various explanations for the eclipse or blood moon. The Chinese thought that an eclipse was caused by a giant cosmic toad-like dragon; the ancient Mesopotamians though that it was an attack by demons; the ancient Mayan civilisation thought that the moon was eaten by a jaguar; while the Egyptians assumed it was a beastly cow that was to blame.

Although we now know that a lunar eclipse is caused by the full moon crossing the plane of the ecliptic, the explanations of demonic animal attack described above are still more accurate than the best explanations of the most gifted flat-earth astronomers, who, to date, have failed repeatedly to provide a model for their flat earth belief. Although it is lamentable, that 2% of the population claim to believe that the earth is flat, this is not a post about how wrong flat earth supporters are. If you want to read about flat earth, I suggest this post.

I wanted to create this post to show the two apps I use for predicting eclipses, one old, one new, or in other words, how did I know that I needed to wake up at 4am this morning (and not as my colleague put it, 'I was coming to work this morning and I noticed that the moon looked a bit funny')?

My trusty go-to eclipse app on the BBC Microcomputer
The first app is 'eclipse' for the BBC Microcomputer. It reliably predicts lunar eclipses, even showing start times and end times with a graphic. The image shows the path of the moon (small circle) through the Earth's shadow (big circle). I still run this on my trusty BBC Micro. I think that it came on a Beebug magazine once. I am always impressed with its accuracy (EDIT image shown is NOT from this morning).

The second is Eclipse Guide developed by Vito Technology, Inc. who also developed the wonderful Sky Walk 2 app. This app is ostensibly a new and improved version of the app above, with better graphics, maps and a bit more information, oh and you can carry it around in your pocket.

Eclipse guide, showing handy information, such as when you need to go outside to freeze and when you need to get excited and tell people who are currently inside to come outside, and when to tell people that it is too late, they have missed it.

Skipping ahead to the near future, this is the app with details about a future solar eclipse, unless you are reading this in the future and the eclipse has already happened.
Well, that's it for today, suffice to say that the eclipse was a beautiful sight to see and I am looking forward to the next one, albeit partial on the 16th July.

If you are sticking around and have nothing better to do, then you might like to look at some similar posts from the history of this blog.


The Eclipse program has been found by a helpful person on the stardot forum: it's from The Micro User, vol 8, issue 6, Aug '90. It's by S. Hatch.