15 April 2014 08:37

Although Cyprus stargazers will not be able to view Tuesday's total lunar eclipse they will be able to enjoy other heavenly phenomenon over the coming days.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily on Monday, astronomy expert Ioannis Fakas confirmed the lunar eclipse visible from the USA, New Zealand and the Pacific area will not be noticeable from this part of the world.
He also noted, however, an unusual astronomical occurrence that could be witnessed from here over the coming days was Mars’ current proximity to the earth.
“Over these few days, Mars is just 90 million km or 0.62 astronomical units from earth, something which occurs only once every year and a half,” Fakas said. He added the phenomenon was best viewed through a telescope pointing to the east at around 9pm.
One astronomical unit (au) is roughly the distance between the earth and the sun.
Also of interest, Fakas added was that this year was one of a few where the Jewish Passover and both Catholic and Orthodox Easters were being celebrated on the astronomically correct days.
Passover is usually celebrated on the first full moon—today—and Easter the first Sunday after.
As it is based on historical tables, the Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18.
The first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox—is identical for both Western and Orthodox Easters, but the churches base the dates on different calendars: Western churches use the Gregorian calendar, the standard calendar for much of the world, and Orthodox churches use the older, Julian calendar.
“Often none are or sometimes it’s just one or two of the three but this year, it’s all three,” Fakas noted.


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