The first eclipse of 2018 will be a lunar one that comes at the very end of the month, on Jan. 31. Sorry, Africa will be left out this time.
It will be a total eclipse that involves the second full moon of the month, popularly referred to as a Blue Moon. Such a skywatching event hasn’t happened for more than 150 years.
Early in the morning on Jan. 31, roughly half of Earth will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. As the moon moves through Earth’s shadow, it will slowly disappear from sight, only to re-emerge within a few hours. The celestial event provides an excellent opportunity to engage children and teenagers (and even adults) in intriguing activities to learn more about Earth’s closest neighbor.
READ ALSO: Science Amazing Feats of 2017
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth all line up, with Earth between the moon and the sun. That means it can happen only during a full moon, when the sun and moon are on opposite sides of our planet. At that point, the moon can move into Earth’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse.
So why don’t we have a lunar eclipse every month? The moon’s orbit is tilted slightly on a path that usually brings it just above or just below Earth’s shadow. To have an eclipse, the three celestial objects must line up along the same plane. This lineup is called an eclipse season. Eclipse seasons occur roughly every six months and last about 34 days. When a full moon happens during an eclipse season, the night side of the planet can witness a lunar eclipse.
Those of you that be seeing the eclipse, kindly take the necessary precautions.