Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Our Favourite Photos of the 'Blood Moon' Eclipse

Our Favourite Photos of the 'Blood Moon' Eclipse

Astronomers said Friday's lunar eclipse was the longest in this century, lasting for 103 minutes, and that this running time wouldn't be matched until 2123.

In addition, the event will also be visible in parts of South-America, parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.

Mars will appear at its brightest as it coincidentally happens to travel closest to Earth, a mere 57.7 million kilometers (35.9 million miles) away, on its elliptical orbit around the sun.

The longest "blood moon" eclipse this century began on July 27, coinciding with Mars' closest approach in 15 years to treat skygazers across the globe to a thrilling celestial spectacle.

Unlike like a solar eclipse, it is entirely safe to look directly at a lunar eclipse, and Friday's eclipse offered sky-watchers more time than usual to look. While the full eclipse will be over 6 hours, the total lunar eclipse 2018 will last for 1 hour and 43 minutes. The total eclipse is scheduled to end at 5.13 a.m.

At 7.13pm South African time, the moon will start moving into the penumbral (partial) shadow of the earth.

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"Less dark eclipses may show the moon as dark gray or brown... as rust-colored, brick-red, or, if very bright, copper-red or orange".

"Dem yelebesech chereka", some murmured - Amharic for "blood moon". According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the eclipse transformed the moon into a reddish orange colour for more than 100 minutes.

The long duration of this eclipse is partly due to the fact that the moon will make a near-central passage through Earth's umbra.

"The Earth doesn't rotate far enough this time around for anyone in North America - the United States and Alaska - to see the eclipse but there are other eclipses that we don't see, there's always a little bit of the Earth that misses out".

The eclipse will have been visible from Africa to the Middle East, Europe, Russia, India, and Australia. The atmosphere filters out most of the sun's blue light, so the moon looks red. This is the longest because for the last four billion years the moon has been moving away from the Earth and has now reached the flawless spot for the lunar alignment.

When the sun, Earth and moon are all lined up, sun-rays shine on the edges of the Earth.

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