Umbral shadows

eclipsed moon and umbrella
eclipsed moon and umbrella

What do these have in common?

There was a lunar eclipse a few days ago on the 4th of April and luckily the sky cleared to give me an excellent view of main event. Knowing this was the last chance to see the Moon slide through the Earth’s umbra, or full shadow, for several years I took the opportunity to take some photos of it. It was a very shallow eclipse and the Moon remained bright on one side, but was deep enough for the rich coppery red colour caused by sunlight bending through the Earth’s atmosphere to be seen.

So what’s this got to do with umbrellas?

I mentioned the word “umbra” above, which is Latin for shadow and is a term used when describing eclipses where the observer would be standing in the full shadow of the eclipse; this can happen during both solar and lunar eclipses. You also have the penumbra, or partial shadow, where the Sun is shining some light directly onto the observer even though some of it has been covered.

Umbra is also the root word for “umbrella” or “small shadow”. So next time it’s raining don’t forget to take a little portable shadow with you to keep you dry!