Early-risers impressed by 'super long' blood moon eclipse

Gwen Vasquez
July 29, 2018

July 27-28 made the world witness the longest lunar eclipse to date, which lasted for an hour and forty-five minutes.

Astronomers and stargazers across the world were mesmerised by the longest blood moon eclipse on Friday night, coinciding with Mars' closest approach in 15 years in a thrilling celestial spectacle.

The so-called "blood moon" Friday, when it turns a deep red, will be visible at different times in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America when the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, casting Earth's shadow on the moon.

The totality period of the eclipse will last for one hour and 42 minutes, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

"It is a very unusual coincidence to have a total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition on the same night", said Mr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, who watched the eclipse from the Mediterranean Sea.

The lunar eclipse happens during daylight hours for those in the Western Hemisphere, so people in North America will miss it.

Red light had a better chance of doing so for the same reason the sky was blue - shorter wavelengths were scattered more efficiently by the molecules in our atmosphere, he said.

"Dem yelebesech chereka", some murmured - Amharic for "blood moon". Picture: Michael GrayA composite photograph showing the various phases of the moon during a lunar eclipse in Sydney.

In a lunar eclipse, the Earth stands between its natural satellite and the Sun.

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When is the next lunar eclipse?

The eclipse is also known as the blood or red moon because when eclipsed, the moon looks red.

Lunar eclipses can occur only during a full moon, and this one is extra special because it's also the blood moon.

Young people watched the eclipse through a telescope beside Lake Magadi in Kenya.

When the full moon moves into Earth's shadow, it will darken, but it won't disappear. This will make the moon appear smaller than regular, and much smaller than it looks during the Super Moon (when the moon is at the closest point in its orbit from the Earth).

Across the rest of the United Kingdom views of the moon are not expected to be much better. From some places, the entire eclipse will be visible, while in other areas the Moon will rise or set during the eclipse.

Thousands of Australians rose in the pre-dawn twilight, braving the winter chill on Saturday to marvel at a spectacular celestial display - a glowing red moon and a shimmering Mars.

NASA, meanwhile, has called out social media hoaxers claiming that Mars will appear as big as the moon during the eclipse.

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