On the evening of November 8, an extremely rare celestial spectacle graced the night sky of Japan – a total lunar eclipse during which the moon eclipsed the planet Uranus. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth, and moon form a straight line, causing the full moon to appear reddish-black in the earth’s shadow.
People across the country have been mesmerized watching the lunar occultation of Uranus. The planet disappeared behind the moon on the left side of the moon, only to reappear later on its opposite side.
The last simultaneous lunar eclipse and lunar planetary occultation observed in Japan was 442 years ago in July 1580. The next will be 322 years from now, far in the future.
Skyscraper Rooftop draws a cheering crowd
About 100 members of the public registered in advance and watched the biggest astronomical spectacle of the year on the roof observatory of Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills (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 site. Three large telescopes and expert commentary were provided. Everyone from children to adults enjoyed this special experience.
The event fell on a weekday, but still drew a good crowd. One woman enthusiastically commented, “I rushed here immediately after work from my office in Ueno. I’m delighted to have the opportunity to watch this wonderful celestial spectacle live.”
More celestial shows to come
Dozens of Roppongi Tenmon Club stargazing events and seminars are held every year. They started in 2009 with the aim of making better use of the skyscraper roofs 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 all year round from the rooftop of Roppongi Hills.
The moon seen from the Roppongi Hills Sky Deck was selected as one of “Japan’s Top 100 Moons” by the Yakei (“Night Sky”) Convention & Visitors Bureau.
If you missed the recent event, your next chance to see a total lunar eclipse will be on September 8, 2025. And here are some upcoming Roppongi Tenmon Club events if you want to enjoy Tokyo’s night sky before the end of the year .
1st December: Stargazing on Mars
December 14: Geminid meteor shower
These events, although dependent on weather and atmospheric conditions, are good opportunities to learn the mysteries of the universe.
Stargazing from Roppongi Hills
The wind over the city rooftops can be strong, so be sure to dress warmly and hold on to your hat!
For more information on the future Roppongi Tenmon Club stargazing events, see this link (Japanese only).
(Read the report in Japanese at this link.)
Author: Hidemitsu Kaito