Get Ready For The Longest Lunar Eclipse Of The Century

In less than a week time, we will be blessed with the longest Lunar eclipse of the century. This celestial event will occur in 27th July 2018. So keep the date.

This eclipse will be visible for one hour, forty three minutes (1hr,43 min). This is the longest eclipse of the 21st century, it will take a total of 4 hours from the moment Earth’s shadow darkens the leading edge of the moon to the moment the moon’s full shine returns, according to Earthsky.org.

Those in the following regions Africa, the Middle East, southern Asia and the Indian Ocean  will get a very good view, given cooperative weather, according to lunar scientist Noah Petro, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The eclipse will be visible from eastern South America as it is ending, and from Australia as it is beginning.

You may wonder why is this the longest eclipse in the century, it is mainly because this is a lunar eclipse and not solar eclipse. There are two types of eclipse and they are both different.

This is the second Lunar eclipse of this year. Read ; Eclipse : Super Blue Blood Moon of Jan. 31

The Differences Between Solar and Lunar Eclipse

Both types of Eclipses have something in common, the effect on the moon. The moon turns deep red or reddish brown during eclipses, instead of going completely dark. That is because some of the sunlight going through Earth’s atmosphere is bent around the edge of our planet and falls onto the moon’s surface. Earth’s air also scatters more shorter-wavelength light (in colors such as green or blue); what’s left is the longer-wavelength, redder end of the spectrum. Now let’s look at the differences.

Solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun’s light from reaching Earth. Lunar eclipse however occurs when our planet moves between the sun and moon. Solar eclipse are usually smaller in duration than Lunar eclipse.

Why is This The Longest Eclipse in the Century?

Lets us get our answers from a professional in the field of Astronomy. Kaisa Young, an astronomer at Nicholls State University in Louisiana said “If you think about it from an outside perspective, a solar eclipse is a small moon casting a small shadow on a big planet,” she said. “A lunar eclipse is a big planet casting a big shadow on a small moon.”

Total Lunar Eclipse

Total Lunar Eclipse will occur again in 27 July 2018. The Umbra decide the duration of the eclipse

When the moon blocks the sun’s shadow from hitting Earth, as happens during a solar eclipse, the umbra —that is the area of complete shadow, where the sun is totally blocked — is a just a few dozen miles wide and zips across the planet. But Earth’s umbra is large, and the moon can take a long time to pass through it — especially if it moves through the middle of the shadow, rather then skirting along the edges, she said.

But there are also significant differences between different solar eclipses and different lunar eclipses, Young said. And that has everything to do with the different patterns and cycles that govern their behavior.

The Earth, moon and sun aren’t in perfect alignment, Young explained. The moon’s orbit has about a 5-degree inclination, and it only crosses the same plane as the Earth and sun twice in each of its 27-day orbits. This is the basic pattern that governs every eclipse.

About twice every 11 months, those crossings are timed such that the Earth, moon and sun all end up in a line with one another. Each such alignment happens once — with Earth between the moon and the sun (lunar eclipse) — and once with the moon between Earth and the sun (solar eclipse), Young said.

Total Lunar Eclipse of 2018

On July 27, 2018, a total lunar eclipse will be visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. This NASA chart by eclipse expert Fred Espenak shows details and visibility projections for this “blood moon” eclipse. Credit: Fred Espenak/NASA GSFC

Another factor than contribute to how long is the time of year. In July, Earth reaches the farthest point of its orbit from the sun, and it looks smallest in the sky compared with other times of year. That means that both the Earth and moon cast larger shadows, which take longer to move through. Earth reaches its closest point to the sun in January, so our home star looks especially large in the sky at that time, and the shadows of eclipses are smaller. So expect longer eclipse around June-July and shorter eclipse around December – January.

Do You Need Special equipment to enjoy the Lunar eclipse on the 27th July?

The answer is NO! You need no special equipment to observe lunar eclipses. Since this is a Lunar eclipse, which occur when the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, it is safe to view directly with the naked eye, telescopes or binoculars.

Next Lunar Eclipse

The next Lunar Eclipse will be next year, on the January 21, 2019. That eclipse will last a total of 1 hour and 2 minutes. It will be visible to those in the North American continent, Alaska, Canada, USA and Mexico. That year will see two lunar eclipses, the second one will be a partial eclipse, on July 16, 2019 which is all the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first moon landing mission, Apollo 11

Materials From Livescience.com and Space.com were used in this article.

 

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