Science

‘Blood moon’: How to watch the longest lunar eclipse of the century

‘Blood moon’: How to watch the longest lunar eclipse of the century”

The red moon is possible because while the moon is in total shadow, some light from the sun passes through Earth's atmosphere and is bent toward the moon.

When the three celestial bodies are perfectly lined up, however, the Earth's atmosphere scatters blue light from the sun while refracting or bending red light onto the moon, usually giving it a rosy blush.

But the eclipse that will stretch from South America to New Zealand on Friday will last nearly four hours, coming in at three hours and 55 minutes.

Skywatchers will be focusing on the moon this weekend to watch the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, also known as a blood moon.

It's also expected that Mars will be shining its brightest in 15 years. "If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red".

The rare event occurs when Mars reaches its closest point to the sun as the same time as Earth's orbit brings it directly between the two.

And last but not least: Mars just happens to be in opposition on Friday night as well.

A
Image The Earth will pass between the sun and the moon for 103 minutes

According to QCH experts lunar eclipses can be seen with naked eye unlike solar eclipses, which need to be looked at using eclipse glass or filters.

This second total lunar eclipse, on July 2018, will be visible in large parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. Earth's Umbra (a shadow's dark core) is responsible for a total lunar eclipse.

This lunar eclipse exhibits the longest duration of totality at 103.6 minutes in the 21st century. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

Why does the moon turn red in a Blood Moon eclipse?

This is what gives the phenomenon the name "blood moon", though Mark Bailey of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland said the colour can vary greatly. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned in a straight line. The moon will finally escape Earth's shadow at about 12.20am on Saturday. Hence lunar eclipse occurs only when there is full moon. "That'swhy a full moon at or near an apogee adds to the duration of a total lunar eclipse", explained MP Birla Planetarium director (research & academic) Debiprosad Duari.

The partial phase will start at 9:24pm and the total phase at 10:30pm, while the maximum totality will be at 11:22pm; where Earth's shadow will block 161% of full moon.



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