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Great news, lunar lovers in South Africa. According to the South African Weather Service (SAWS), much of the country will tonight experience a partial lunar eclipse.
This phenomenon occurs when the Earth blocks the Sun’s light from reaching, and reflecting off, the Moon.
“It will start at 19:23 local time and end at 21:18, with the maximum eclipse occurring at 20:20,” SAWS writes on a Facebook update.
For those in the extreme west of South Africa — think Springbok, Saldanha and Cape Town — the moon will only rise around 20 minutes prior to when the eclipse is at its maximum.
South Africa will experience a partial lunar eclipse Monday evening
“Unfortunately for the extreme western parts of the country, moonrise is only at around 20:00, so at the time of the maximum partial eclipse the moon will be very low on the horizon ( if visible at all).”
While the likes of Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Durban will enjoy the best view of the eclipse, the weather might be an issue.
Bad visibility: All along the coast and the interior adjacent to the coast north of East London and the entire Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline, also including the Lowveld of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. This is due to on-shore winds from a ridging high pressure causing quite a bit of cloud cover.
Medium visibility: A layer of thin, high level cirrus clouds will cover most parts of the Eastern Cape, southern Free State, the Western and Northern Cape (south of Upington) and Limpopo.
Excellent visibility: Gauteng, most of the North West province, northern Free State and the Highveld of Mpumalanga.
The lunar eclipse will also be visible in a number of other countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, including India, Australia, Saudi Arabia and much of Africa’s eastern coastline. The likes of China, Indonesia and Malaysia will also be able to view the eclipse.
This won’t be the only major eclipse the planet is set to enjoy this month. On 21 August, much of North America will experience a total solar eclipse, the first in the US since 1918.
Another lunar eclipse — this time in totality — is set to grace South African skies in July 2018.