Published: Sat, July 28, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Blood moon over Dunedin

Blood moon over Dunedin

The world will witness the longest total lunar eclipse of this century on July 27, 2018. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

The Earth's shadow passing over the moon.

Anyone who misses out on seeing Friday's lunar eclipse can be reassured knowing they will not have to wait too long for it to happen again - with the next lunar eclipse set to happen in January next year.

People across the country -weather permitting - will be able to view a rare celestial event called a selenelion this morning. Slooh, a robotic telescope service, will also live stream the eclipse beginning at 1 p.m. This is the best time of the year to see a number of our solar system's planets.

Friday night's blood moon will be the longest-lasting so far this century.

The total eclipse is expected to last a record-breaking one hour and 43 minutes, seen in Italy from 21:30, when the moon enters the shadow of the Earth and turns red, until 23:13, when it will start to emerge and regain its normal appearance.

Our neighbouring planet will appear unusually large and bright, a mere 57.7 million kilometres (35.9 million miles) from Earth on its elliptical orbit around the sun.

People gathered at 8am on Saturday to watch a rare celestial event known as a selenelion - where an eclipsed moon and the sun can be seen in the sky at the same moment.

"For those new to astronomy, the evening may prove to be a mesmerising introduction to core scientific principles", said Dr Daniel Cunnama, science engagement astronomer at the SAAO.

A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big
A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big

This is why a total lunar eclipse is often referred to as a "blood moon".

Rain and cloudy skies could prevent sky gazers from watching Friday's lunar eclipse in Delhi, the city's Nehru Planetarium has said. The Penumbral Eclipse begins at 22.44 PM IST on July 27.

The eclipse of the moon will not be visible from North America or most of the Pacific.

"And the density of dust increasing in the atmosphere can cause the moon to appear a particularly deep red, and indeed it has the same effect on our sunsets and sunrises".

"If you were standing on the moon in this eclipse, you would see the sun and then the earth would come in the way and blot out the sun", said Fabian.

If you're in North America and want to watch the lunar eclipse, you still can.

"As for Mars, it can be seen clearly using nothing but the naked eye, located to the East as a bright orange object".

According to a research, the temperature on the moon varies so much that it changes from dramatic hot to freezing cold in a couple of hours.

Chandra Grahan or Lunar Eclipse 2018: Date, Time in India, significance
According to NASA scientists: "The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere". In addition, the Earth is closer to the Sun during the northern hemisphere summer so its shadow is larger than average, he said.

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