Longest eclipse of century to darken parts of Asia and Africa — but you can see it, too

The moon will slide into Earth’s shadow Friday in what will be the longest lunar eclipse of the century. While it won’t show up in Canadian skies, there are methods you can see the phenomenon on your own.

Lunar eclipses occur from 2 to 4 times a year, but not all them show up.

Sometimes they are penumbral eclipses, where the moon passes through Earth’s fainter external shadow, which isn’t really quite noticeable to the human eye.

Then there are partial eclipses, where simply part of the moon goes through the dark umbra, or shadow. And lastly, there are overall lunar eclipses, where the whole moon goes through the umbra.

The factor we don’t get eclipses on a monthly basis is since the moon orbits Earth on a somewhat likely airplane of five degrees.

Unlike solar eclipses, which last a few minutes, lunar eclipses last three hours or longer.

However the eclipse that will extend from South America to New Zealand on Friday will last nearly four hours, being available in at three hours and 55 minutes. And totality, which will happen over Africa, the Middle East and part of Asia, will last an hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest one in 100 years.

And yes, you’ll likely hear this eclipse being described as the “blood moon.” But there’s nothing frightening about it.

Throughout a lunar eclipse, the sun lies directly behind Earth, refracting– or bending — light. Blue light is scattered, leaving only red. The light of all the sundowns and daybreaks taking place concurrently is reflected off the moon, making it appear red.

The deepness of the red depends on the particles in the air. So it’s anyone’s guess just how red this eclipse will be.

While Canadians will not have the ability to witness the occasion first-hand, there are methods to record it from the conveniences of house.

You can see it online with The Virtual Telescope Project or Slooh. Both are resources that offer live-streaming of astronomical events. While they will reveal the whole eclipse, if you’re looking for totality, it occurs from 3:30 p.m. ET to 5:13 p.m. ET.

Extra deals with
However there are a couple of extra-special happenings that night.

For one, Mars will be at opposition, when Earth lies directly in between it and the sun (four days later on, Mars will be the closest to Earth given that 2003).

And finally, there will be a combination between Mars and the moon. Astronomers typically talk about these occasions, identified by two celestial bodies appearing really close together in the sky. There isn’t really anything particularly clinical about it, but it makes for fantastic watching and photos.

On the night of the overall lunar eclipse, Mars and the moon will be approximately 6 degrees apart in the night sky. And you can enjoy the pairing here in our night sky. You can discover the local time of moonrise by checking out the website Time and Date

So, while the total lunar eclipse won’t be enhancing Canadian skies, you can still head out and enjoy Mars and the moon as they stand carefully together in the night sky. And do not forget Saturn and Jupiter, too, which will likewise be up for most of the night.

The next overall lunar eclipse visible from Canada will be on Jan. 21, 2019, and will last 3 hours and 17 minutes, with totality lasting an hour and 2 minutes.


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