Published: Sat, July 28, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Science in Action, What is a lunar eclipse?

Science in Action, What is a lunar eclipse?

This still from a NASA video shows a blood moon.

You won't want to miss tonight's blood moon because the next one won't take place until January 2019. The partial eclipse will start again around 3:49 am. It lasted one hour, 46 minutes and 24 seconds.

Slooh will broadcast the entire lunar eclipse on its YouTube channel, which should go live at 1:00 p.m. EDT (17:00 UT).

At that point, it would enter the part of shadow known as the umbra (darkest part of the shadow) and start to turn red. This will then be followed by the end of the partial eclipse at 02.19, and the moon will emerge from the semi-shadow region and completely end at 03.29. Friday's blood moon won't be as big. That also places it closest to Earth.

According to NASA scientists: "The exact colour that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere".

Because the Earth now reaches its Aphelion point sometime in July, the longest lunar eclipses tend to take place during the summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, said: "It's called a blood moon because the light from the sun goes through the earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon, and the earth's atmosphere turns it red in the same way that when the sun goes down it goes red". Coincidentally, Mars is also at its brightest, putting two bright red objects in our sky. This happens about every 26 months. In 2018, it happens on today.

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

The Royal Astronomical Society said Mars and the moon will appear low in the sky for everyone in the United Kingdom, so a location with an unobstructed southeastern horizon will afford the best view.

Because the moon is further away from Earth than it normally is, it will look smaller than usual.

2018's opposition of Mars isn't as spectacular as 2003's, but will still be a sight to see. As such, Mars should be easily seen by the naked eye, even in light-polluted metropolitan areas like Taipei. The eclipse is set to occur during North America's daytime, but will be visible in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

Unlike with a solar eclipse, viewers do not need protective eye gear to observe the rare display. Just step outside, look up, and enjoy!

Why is this lunar eclipse special? Nearly two weeks after, on August 11, 2018, another partial solar eclipse will take place.

What's the best time to view the blood moon?

'They will move through reasonably quickly but if that coincides with the peak moment of the eclipse, they could obscure the moon'. These similar eclipses make up a Saros series. Around the world, people will be able to view the longest lunar experience of the 21st century, lasting one hour and 43 minutes. The series has 71 eclipses. The will begin shortly before the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins and will stretch through to its conclusion.

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