The heavens are treating star-gazers to one stunner of a variety show. A lunar eclipse happens when the Moon passes directly behind Earth and into its shadow. “If you were on the Moon, you would see a total solar eclipse as the Earth would be blocking the Sun”. The Earth orbits, or goes around, the sun. It will appear unusually large and bright, a mere 35.9 million miles from Earth on its elliptical orbit around the sun.
Eventually, the two planets aligned – but sometimes the match-up proved much more special.
When the moon moves into the conical shaped shadow of the earth, it goes from being illuminated by the sun to being dark. That lunar eclipse takes place almost ten years after this one.
“It hasn’t been this close since 2003 and won’t be again until 2287”, said Kelly.
The planet Mars, seen here left centre. When it was at its strongest and centred directly over Ireland a few weeks ago, the skies were nearly cloudless.
The Lunar Eclipse, commonly known as a Blood Moon, gets its name from the dark red glow the moon takes on.
The places a selenelion can be seen are limited because everything must line up. “The partial eclipse ends at 11.19 p.m.”, he said.
Aside from the blood moon, there is a small chance of pockets of heavy, thundery showers appearing along Scotland’s east coast tomorrow night, carried up from England. However, the partial eclipse will begin around 11.44 pm on July 27 itself.
In Dunedin, the interval would be reduced to four minutes; in Christchurch, three minutes.
The moon appears red (rather than in complete darkness) due to blue light from the earth’s atmosphere refracting sunlight onto the surface of the moon.
Instead, it will appear to be a deep copper red as it reflects the scattered light of all the sunsets and sunrises on Earth back at us. When this happens, Earth blocks the light from the sun to the moon. “At most perihelic oppositions, including this one, the planet retreats to the belly of the ecliptic low in the southern sky”.
A global dust storm covers Mars’ disk in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope, captured on July 18.
“It’s a co-incidence, basically”, astronomer Dr Grant Christie said.
What time will you be able to see it? That means it will be shining extra-bright in the night’s sky. And the good news about that one is that at least part of that 106-minute stretch of totality will be visible from North America.
Even if you can’t see Friday night’s eclipse in real life, you can watch it on your computer.
The event is co-organised by the Survey Department of the Ministry of Development, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali and the Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam.