Clouds put damper on heavenly spectacle
Hundreds of stargazers who gathered at Tsim Sha Tsui last night for a glimpse of the total lunar eclipse, were left disappointed as clouds over the city blocked the spectacle.
It was the second total lunar eclipse within the year but the next one will only be visible from Hong Kong in late 2010.
The Observatory had advised that Sai Kung and Shek O were the best viewing spots but people could have also watched the event from anywhere that had an unobstructed view of the east and southeast.
The moon took 51/2 hours to cross the Earth's shadow, causing a spectacle which was at least partly visible on every continent. But the event was cut short for Hongkongers as viewers had to wait for the Sun to set at 6.42pm, 21/2 hours after the eclipse had begun.
Overseas stargazers said the best part of the event was when the moon turned red at the beginning. Then it turned shades of orange and grey, and the shadows eventually nibbled it into a crescent before engulfing it completely.
Cheung Sze-leung, astronomy officer of Ho Koon Nature Education cum Astronomical Centre, who watched the eclipse from Sai Kung, said the moon finally appeared at about 8pm, when it was already coming out of total eclipse.
'A crescent-shaped moon emerged above the horizon, and some dark shadows are reddened,' he said as he watched.
He and his group had prepared nine telescopes at Sai Kung for the spectacle.
But he added that a lunar eclipse could be watched without magnification or the eye protection needed during a solar eclipse.
Mr Cheung said he was a bit disappointed by the cloudy conditions but he was satisfied just to have had a peek at the heavenly spectacle.
Meanwhile, many amateur astronomers anxiously awaited the moonrise at observation spots in Tsim Sha Tsui last evening, with more than 20 telescopes set up along the Avenue of Stars by the Hong Kong Astronomical Society. But they managed to spy only a few seconds of the eclipse.