Not one, but two eclipses will occur this month and both are partially visible from Melbourne.
Just before sunset on the 15th April, the Moon will rise already totally eclipsed. It should look quite eerie to see a red moon rising above the eastern horizon and it's always amazing how bright the Moon appears as it moves out of the Earth's shadow and returns to its usual splendour. While you are watching the eclipse, be sure to take a look at Mars, which will be just to the left of the Moon and the bright star Spica (in the constellation of Virgo) that will be found just above.
The progression of a total lunar eclipse in August 2007.
Image: Phil Hart
Two weeks later on the 29th April, the Moon and Sun will come together in the sky and we'll see a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse will begin during the afternoon and reach its maximum point just before sunset. At the height of the eclipse 64% of the Sun's diameter will be covered by the Moon. The Sun will still be partially eclipsed as it sets below the western horizon.
The Moon takes a bite out of the Sun.
Image: Phil Hart
The timings for both the lunar and solar eclipse can be found from the Planetarium's monthly newsletter – Skynotes – which is a great guide for finding your way around the night sky.
Importantly, lunar eclipses are lovely to watch and you don't need any special equipment. Solar eclipses, on the other hand, require a bit of care and planning. Never look directly at the Sun.
There are safe ways to watch a solar eclipse and the easiest is to purchase special eclipse glasses. They are available from the Scienceworks shop and will allow you to watch the event, while protecting your eyesight.
You can also create a simple "pinhole" projection. It's as easy as making a small pinhole in a piece of paper or cardboard. Do not look through the hole, but allow the Sun to shine through and project an image onto a second piece of cardboard. Even a blank wall or a clear patch of ground can make a good surface for projection.
And as I've mentioned previously on the Museum's blog, sometimes nature helps out too. If you can see sunlight travelling through the leaves of a tree, you’ve got yourself some ready-made pinhole projections. Check the ground and it might be covered with little crescent Sun images, just like this great example from the Astronomy magazine website.