Lunar eclipse in Turkey

Expedition to Antalya / Anamur

gazipasa

The longest lunar eclipse in the 21st century will occur on July 27/28th, with the total phase lasting 103 minutes (1 hour 43 min). Also, it will be the first central eclipse since June 2011 and the first one well visible in Europe since September 2015*. Last but not least this year Mars is in Great Opposition and will lit the sky as an orange jewel at -2.8 magnitude, located only 6° below the Moon.

July 27/28th, 2018

This eclipse will be visible in all of Africa (Moon overhead in Réunion and Mauritus), and most of Europe, Asia & Australia. In July/August, Mediterranean basin has the best weather in Europe, however as the eclipse occurs in the evening, the full length of it will be only visible from Turkey, Cyprus and the Greek islands of Rodos and Karpathos.

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At our primary location in Anamur, the Moon rises at 19:51 local time (UT+3). It is 4° high by the beginning of penumbral phase (20:15). The totality will last from 22:30 to 24:13 (maximum at 23:22), at an altitude of 30° (compared to 20° in Sicilia, 10° in España). Eclipse ends at 02:28.

Anamur is in fact the southernmost point of the Anatolian peninsula (at 36.0°N). The name of the area nearby, Muzkent, literally means ‘banana town’, as it’s the only place in Turkey where bananas grow locally. The sky unveils bits of exotic as well: here you can comfortably observe all of Scorpius and Corona Australis, while more southern constellations, little-known to a European observer, such as Lupus, Ara and Grus, rise above the sea on summer nights.

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Southern sky at midnight (UT+3) from Gazipaşa, Turkey

Our plans

We arrive to Alanya on the Mediterranean coast a day before the eclipse (July 26th) and stay in the beautiful countryside of Gazipaşa. Next afternoon, provided the weather forecast is favourable, we’ll head a bit further east, to a nearby viewing spot close to Anamur. From there the moonrise will be perfectly visible over the sea, not blocked by the Western Taurus range. An alternative option will be on the western coast of Antalya, or in the mountains above, in particular – in Saklıkent, where Tübitak National Observatory is located.

The region where we stay, eastern Antalya and Mersin, has one of the pristine coastlines not spoiled by mass tourism (other is Lycia). We’d try to cover at least some of the appealing spots of natural beauty, such as:

  • Köşekbükü and Gilindire caves. The latter is newly discovered, designated a natural reserve and became open to public only in 2013. It is accessible exclusively by a steep descent by staircase, facing the sea. Another name of it is Aynalıgöl (Turkish for ‘Mirror Lake’), as it hides a lake inside, below sea level.
  • Anemurium (Ανεμούριον), ancient Roman ruins from the age of Christ and a “newer”, Byzanthine-era castle of Mamure.
  • Hinterlands of southern Turkey – Ermenek and Mut. Fresh mountainous air, in contrast to the humid seaside, welcomes you to a rather arid land traversed by outstanding canyons and surrounded by moonlike plateaux.
  • Cennet ve cehennem (Turkish for ‘Heaven and hell’). Two sinkholes in the ground more than 100m deep, where one can look into the void and descend into heaven. Known since Strabon as Korykion Antron (Κωρύκιον αντρον), a place where Zeus kept the monster Typhon.

We’ll keep exploring the area for the following 4-6 days after the eclipse, by around August 2nd.

*Astrosafari chased the moonset total eclipse of Septemper 28, 2015 at the Baltic coast of Poland, and the total eclipse of June 15, 2011 was observed by author (Roman Kostenko) near Poltava, Ukraine