Kiwis to get glimpse of blood moon

Terry Joseph
July 28, 2018

Although total lunar eclipses happen relatively often, the one happening on Friday 27 July 2018 is particularly special because it will last for the longest time of any such eclipse in the 21st century.

What a lunar eclipse can look like.

According to some Hindu beliefs, celestial bodies such as the sun and moon emit negative energy during an eclipse and so some temples in India were closed to minimize any disturbance.

The next lengthy lunar eclipse is scheduled for 2123.

You will find several videos and space channels live streaming the lunar eclipse. Stargazers will enjoy a rare celestial display when, on the same night, Mars will shine brighter than it has in 15 years.

It was also better the further south you are with Otago and Southland favoured because the event will last longer. It will be on the intervening night of July 27 and 28 with a duration of 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest one. Because of gravitational influences and the tilt of the planets' orbits, Mars sometimes comes even closer than usual to Earth - the 2003 opposition was the closest pass in almost 60,000 years.

As a scientist I don't like the use of the description "blood moon".

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"In the middle of a lunar eclipse it can look as if a red planet has taken up residence near the Earth - they are both eerie and handsome", Robert Massey of the RAS said.

Aside political events, changes in weather patterns including events in the atmosphere like eclipses have also been seen as signs of the end times.

Most of the world got to see a spectacular event in the sky Friday.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland show, Managing Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine Ann Dunne said: "Belfast looks like the best place to see it tonight, but you never know".

The celestial event comes as a result of the alignment between the moon, Earth and the sun, and will be visible across the United Kingdom and parts of the Eastern hemisphere.

The lunar eclipse happens during daylight hours for those in the Western Hemisphere, so people in North America will miss it. The entire United States won't be able to see a full lunar eclipse again until January. The will begin shortly before the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins and will stretch through to its conclusion. But there's a catch: It'll be visible only in parts of South America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This is partly because the moon is lower in the sky in the north, and partly because the northern light summer nights mean that the blood colour will not be as clearly visible.

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