Friday night will see the longest “blood moon” eclipse this century and also the closest approach of the Red Planet Mars to Earth since 2003.
According to astronomers, the total lunar will last for about one hour and 43 minutes — 27 minutes longer than January 31’s Super Blue Blood Moon, which lasted for one hour and 16 minutes.
Stargazers in the Philippines, along with the rest of Asia and Australia, will be able to view the blood moon from shortly before midnight on Friday, July 27, and dawn on Saturday.
“Totality will last for 103 minutes, making it the longest eclipse of the 21st century!” said the Royal Astronomical Society in London.
At the same time, Mars will hover near the moon in the night sky, making it easily visible to the naked eye.
Our neighbouring planet will appear unusually large and bright, being a mere 35.9 million miles from Earth.
A total lunar eclipse happens when Earth takes position in a straight line between the moon and sun, blotting out the direct sunlight that normally makes our satellite glow whitish-yellow.
The moon travels to a similar position every month, but the tilt of its orbit means it normally passes above or below the Earth’s shadow — so most months we have a full moon without an eclipse.
When the three celestial bodies are perfectly lined up, however, the Earth’s atmosphere scatters blue light from the sun while refracting or bending red light onto the moon, usually giving it a rosy blush.
The long duration of this eclipse is partly due to the fact that the moon will make a near-central passage through the Earth’s shadow, or umbra.
NASA, meanwhile, has called out social media hoaxers claiming that Mars will appear as big as the moon during the eclipse.
“If that were true, we’d be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars, and our moon!” the NASA website states.
Mars will more likely appear as a very bright star, and viewers will need no protective eye gear.
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