Sunday, 18 November, 2018

"Blood moon" eclipse, Mars providing treat for skywatchers

Longest eclipse of century to darken parts of Asia and Africa — but you can see it, too Longest lunar eclipse of the century to happen Friday
Kristen Harrington | 28 July, 2018, 13:27

When was the last blood moon?

The next total lunar eclipse will occur on January 19 2019.

An illustration of the stages of the July 27, 2018, total lunar eclipse.

The entire phenomenon will last three hours and 55 minutes, the time the moon moves through the clearest part of the Earth's shadow.

Although the lunar eclipse is expected to last 103 minutes, observers in the United Kingdom and Ireland will not be able to catch the start as the moon will still be below the horizon.

Taking steps such as using a tripod to minimise vibrations and integrating the moon with the surroundings to give a sense of scale and place can lead to great photos.

The eclipse and the coppery-red hue were made all the most special by Mars being visible in the sky at the same time.

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Total lunar eclipses are a rare occurrence.

The most dramatic is the total lunar eclipse, in which the earth's shadow covers the moon.

Earth's umbra is the longest and widest when the Earth is at or close to the Aphelion.

The moon will begin to move into the penumbra - the fuzzy outer edge of the Earth's shadow - at 17:14 GMT.

"This is also known as Blood Moon, where the earth's satellite takes on a reddish color", the officials said.

Mars will add to the spectacle shining brightly below the blood moon as it reaches perihelic opposition - where the Red Planet and the sun are on directly opposite sides of Earth.

Thousands of Australians armed with telescopes, binoculars and cameras watched the glowing red moon and a shimmering Mars.

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The moon travels to a similar position every month, but the tilt of its orbit means it normally passes above or below the Earth´s shadow - so most months we have a full moon without an eclipse. In 2018, it happens on today.

"If that were true, we´d be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars, and our moon!" the NASA website stated.

Meanwhile, Mars is now traveling closer to Earth than it has since 2003, so some observers overnight might have also seen what looked like an orange-red star, but was in fact the red planet.

Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at Cambridge University, explained that light from the sun goes through the earth's atmosphere on its way to the moon. However, this is the closest the planet has come since 2003. "Kenyans had the chance to see other planets like Mars, Jupiter and Saturn without the need of specialised equipment", Ms Susan Murabana, the Travelling Telescope Africa MD, told the Saturday Nation.

Dr Steel said the way to see the "blood moon" would be to get a high vantage point. The meteor shower is usually active between July 17 and August 24 and will peak on on the night of August 12 and early morning hours of August 13.

Friday's total lunar eclipse will be visible across large parts across Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, and South America.

People may have missed the moon eclipse, but were treated to a spectacular sunrise.

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