On Friday, July 27, many parts of the world will get to see a so-called “blood moon” for close to two hours. This, as noted by reports, will make it the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, and the longest the world will ever get to witness until more than 100 years from now.
As explained by AccuWeather, total lunar eclipses are also known as “blood moon eclipses” because of how the moon develops a deep red or dark orange shade when it passes by Earth’s innermost shadow. While such eclipses do not require people to use protective eyewear or high-end telescopes to view them safely, they can only be viewed in cloud-free skies.
All in all, Friday’s total lunar eclipse will last for more than six hours, including partial phases, with the total phase lasting for a total of 103 minutes. It will be the longest blood moon this century, and likely the longest we will ever see in our lifetimes, as the next eclipse of this kind that is expected to last as long will take place on June 9, 2123.
According to AccuWeather, there are a few reasons why Friday’s total lunar eclipse is expected to last close to two hours. One of the main reasons is the “micromoon” phenomenon, which happens when an eclipse takes place at a time when the moon is near apogee, or close to its farthest point away from Earth, thus making it look smaller than it usually does. This is the opposite of the “supermoon” phenomenon, where the moon is at perigee, or at its closest proximity to our planet and appearing much larger than usual.
Furthermore, the moon is expected to travel almost directly through the middle of Earth’s shadow, which would allow it to spend more time in darkness and ensure that the total phase of the lunar eclipse would last so long.
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“What controls the duration of the lunar eclipse is the position of the moon as it passes through the Earth’s shadow,” explained NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center lunar scientist Noah Petro in an interview with Space.com.
“The moon can either graze through the cone or go right through the middle. That [the middle] gets a longer-duration eclipse. This time, the moon is passing closer to the center of that cone, and it’s, therefore, a little bit longer than the eclipse we had back in January.”
Those living in most parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America will be able to view the longest blood moon eclipse of the century on Friday, as confirmed by NASA, with those in Australia, New Zealand, and eastern Asia getting to see it take place before the moon sets on Saturday morning. People in North America, however, won’t get a chance to view the total lunar eclipse, as it is scheduled to take place in the daytime due to the difference in time zones.