Published: Sat, July 28, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

"Blood moon" eclipse, Mars providing treat for skywatchers

Where skies are clear of cloud, the spectacle will be visible nearly everywhere around the world, with the exception of North America.

"That's the special thing about this one, and why it's such an unusual one, and translates into it being the longest possible lunar eclipse".

The longest "blood moon" eclipse this century will coincide with Mars' closest approach in 15 years today to offer skygazers a thrilling astronomical double bill.

This month's lunar eclipse was not a "super moon", but what made this particular eclipse so historic was its unique alignment with the Earth, piercing the exact centre of the Earth's shadow.

Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere are best-placed to witness the rare sight, especially in southern Africa, Australia, South Asia and Madagascar, though it will also be partly visible in Europe and South America.

The full moon is seen during a "blood moon" eclipse over the temple of Apollo in Corinth, on July 27, 2018.

In contrast, New Zealanders will be able to watch the start of the eclipse before sunrise July 28. Some light, though, still reaches it because it is bent by the Earth's atmosphere. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

According to officials the total lunar eclipse will be visible from 1:00 a.m. local time early Saturday and will be visible in all the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, among others.

Widespread monsoon rainstorms and thick clouds hid the moon across much of India and its neighbours, which should have had a prime view.

"It's like looking at the sun at sunset - it goes red because the light goes through a dusty, murky atmosphere, and that is the light that gets through to the moon".

Following the lunar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse will take place on August 11.

Those in Brazil´s Rio de Janeiro had more luck, snapping the red moon in the clear night sky with their phones and cameras.

For one, Mars will be at opposition, when Earth lies directly between it and the sun (four days later, Mars will be the closest to Earth since 2003).

The time of greatest eclipse will be 2021 GMT on July 27.

This happens only when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned, with Earth in the middle.

Kiwi star-gazers are waking up and turning their eyes to the skies to get a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse at a "blood moon" like no other.

Total eclipses of the Moon are spectacular events and are easy to see with the naked eye.

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