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Uranus Joins Lunar Eclipse: Tokyo Mesmerized by Rare Astronomical Show

On November 8, Tokyoites gathered on the Roppongi Hills Sky Deck to observe the moon in a rare type of lunar eclipse the country hadn't seen in 442 years.

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Lunar eclipse
A spectacular total lunar eclipse with Uranus joining the astronomical show on November 8, 2022. (©Sankei)

On the evening of November 8, an extremely rare celestial show graced Japan's night sky – a total lunar eclipse during which the moon occulted the planet Uranus. A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth, and moon form a straight line, causing the full moon to appear reddish black in the shadow of the Earth. 

People across the country were mesmerized watching the lunar occultation of Uranus. The planet disappeared behind the moon from the moon's left side, later to reappear on its opposite side.

Total lunar eclipse seen in Mine City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on November 8. From left to right: 6:00 p.m., 6:20 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 7:59 p.m., 8:42 p.m., 9:00 p.m., and 9:40 p.m. The center is the total eclipse (Kyodo).

The last simultaneous lunar eclipse and lunar planetary occultation observed in Japan was 442 years ago in July 1580. The next one will be in 322 years, far off into the future.

Skyscraper Rooftop Draws an Enthusiastic Crowd

About 100 members of the public registered in advance and attended the year's biggest astronomical show on the rooftop observatory of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower (270 m above sea level) in Tokyo. 

The event was part of the Roppongi Tenmon ("Astronomy") Club, the name for stargazing events held at the venue. Three large telescopes and expert commentary were provided. Everyone from children to adults enjoyed the special experience. 

The public enjoying the show at Roppongi Hills Sky Deck (© JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito).

The event fell on a weekday, but still attracted a good crowd. One woman commented excitedly, "I rushed here immediately after work from my office in Ueno. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to watch this wonderful celestial show live."

More Celestial Shows To Come

Dozens of Roppongi Tenmon Club stargazing events and seminars are held every year. They began in 2009 aimed at better utilizing the rooftops of skyscrapers in the heart of Tokyo for observing nature.

There was a time when astronomical observation was considered difficult in the Tokyo night sky. Now the beautiful starry sky can be enjoyed throughout the year from the rooftop of Roppongi Hills. 

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The moon as seen from the Roppongi Hills Sky Deck was selected as one of the "100 Best Moons of Japan" by the Yakei ("Night Sky") Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Uranus at the beginning of the lunar occultation at 8:31 p.m., November 8, near Expo '70 Commemorative Park, Suita City, Osaka Prefecture (© Sankei by Yuta Yasumoto).

If you missed the recent event, your next chance to see a total lunar eclipse will be September 8, 2025. And here are a couple of upcoming Roppongi Tenmon Club events if you'd like to enjoy Tokyo's night sky before the end of the year. 

December 1: Stargazing at Mars

December 14: Geminid Meteor Shower

These events, while dependent on the weather and atmospheric conditions, are good opportunities to learn about the mysteries of the universe.

Stargazing From Roppongi Hills

"Total lunar eclipse" observation event at Roppongi Hills rooftop observatory in Tokyo. November 8, 2022. (© JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito).
Reddish black moon and Uranus at bottom-left during the simultaneous total lunar eclipse and lunar occultation at 8:30 p.m. on November 8, 2022, from the Roppongi Hills Sky Deck. (© JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito).
"Total lunar eclipse" observation event at Roppongi Hills rooftop observatory in Tokyo. November 8, 2022. (© JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito).
Children watching the celestial show on the Sky Deck at Roppongi Hills (© JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito).

The wind on city rooftops can be strong, so be sure to dress warmly and hold onto your hat!

For more information on future Roppongi Tenmon Club stargazing events, see this link (Japanese only).

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(Read the report in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Hidemitsu Kaito

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