Longest lunar eclipse until 2123

We are entering an eclipse season…

The moon’s orbit around the earth is slightly tilted. This means that – for most new moons and full moons – the earth, moon and sun are not aligned, and there is no eclipse.

About every six months, however, the moon’s tilted orbit lines up with the earth’s orbit around the sun. This period lasts for 34 days or so, which means we always have two or three eclipses during this time. In this current eclipse season we have two solar eclipses – which happen at new moon – and one lunar eclipse – which happens at full moon.

The solar eclipses take place near the beginning and end of the season, when the earth, moon and sun are still not perfectly aligned. This means they are small, partial eclipses that are only visible from near the poles. They occur on July 13th and August 11th (maps below, from timeanddate.com).

Partial solar eclipse, July 13th 2018
Click here for full details

Partial solar eclipse, August 11th 2018
Click here for full details

The lunar eclipse, on the other hand, takes place bang in the middle of the season, when the moon, earth and sun are aligned precisely. This gives us a big, total eclipse. In fact, if we throw in the fact that it’s a micromoon (where the moon is slightly further away and moving more slowly than usual), and the earth is at aphelion (its furthest point from the sun, which means its shadow is larger), it will be the longest total lunar eclipse for the next 105 years…

The lunar eclipse takes place on the night of July 27th/28th, and will be visible across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and parts of South America (map below). We’ll once again be providing live coverage on timeanddate.com, with live images from Santorini (Greece), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Perth (Australia) – weather and gremlins permitting, of course ^_^

We are tremendously grateful to Matt Woods and the team at Perth Observatory, and Jerome Jooste and his colleagues at the Old Republic Observatory in Johannesburg.

Total lunar eclipse, July 27th/28th 2018
Click here for full details


Did you know (1)…?
During the total phase of the eclipse, the moon will turn a reddish colour as light is filtered and bent through the earth’s atmosphere.

Did you know (2)…?
On the night of July 27th, the moon will appear to be next-door to Mars in the night sky (image below, from EarthSky).

Image: EarthSky

Did you know (3)…?
On the same day, Mars will be at opposition, which is near its closest approach to the earth. In other words, the red planet will be shining brightly next-door to a red moon. So get reddy for a spectacular sight. (Sorry, I mean, get ready.)

Image: timeanddate.com


 

One response to “Longest lunar eclipse until 2123

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