The longest lunar eclipse of the century (so far) will take place across Friday night and Saturday morning, as the moon is totally eclipsed by the Earth for one hour and 43 minutes. During this time, people around the world will be able to see a “blood moon”, as the Earth’s satellite turns red.
The last total lunar eclipse graced the night skies with its presence on the night of January 31, 2018, and was the spectacular Super Blue Blue Blood Moon combo.
On the night of Friday, July 27, the plane on which the moon orbits around the sun will align with the plane on which the Earth revolves around the sun.
The stellar alignment will result in the moon disappearing into the Earth’s shadow and reappearing as the ominous Blood Moon.
During the eclipse, the moon will first pass through the Earth’s faint shadow known as the penumbra.
So-called penumbral eclipsing is typically very faint and most people would not notice it without knowing it was happening.
If this eclipse is rare, it is because it will last for so long. The moon will be in the Earth’s shadow for four hours and totally eclipsed for one hour and 43 minutes, which is just short of the theoretical limit of a lunar eclipse (one hour and 47 minutes). The eclipse will last for so long on Friday night because the moon will be passing through the centre of the Earth’s shadow.
The best view of the eclipse will be from east Africa, the Middle East, across to India and the westernmost tip of China. But there still be reasonable views for people in the rest of Africa, Europe, other parts of Asia, Australia and the eastern tip of South America.
North America and Greenland look to be the only places that will miss out entirely.
n Australia: the moon will start getting red at 4:30am AEST on Saturday morning, with the total eclipse occurring between 5:30 and 6:30am, before the moon sets at 6:55am. The moon will be close to the horizon, so make sure to look west-south-west.
In the UK: the partial eclipse will begin at 8:30pm, the total eclipse will occur between 9:20pm BST on Friday, with the moon visible to the south-east, until 10:13pm.
In east Africa: the partial eclipse will begin at 9:30pm EAT, with the moon completely red between 10:30pm and 12:13am. This region will have one of the best views of the eclipse.
In India: the total eclipse will begin at 1am IST, finishing at 2:43am.
From start to finish the eclipse will last three hours and 55 minutes and totality will last one hour and 43 minutes – the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.