Amateur astronomers, look to the skies – it’s time for another rare celestial event. This time we’re being treated to the longest lunar eclipse of the century.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, its shadow crossing the moon and making it appear red. In the case of this eclipse, happening when the moon is relatively far from Earth in its orbit, the moon is going to look red for a pretty long period. However unlike the “Super Blue Blood Moon” from earlier this year, the moon is going to appear quite a bit smaller this time.
The reason the moon turns red rather than disappearing entirely is due to the way the sun’s light shines through the Earth’s atmosphere. This is called Rayleigh scattering, a phenomenon that’s also responsible for the vivid red and orange colours visible during sunrises and sunsets.
How To Watch The Eclipse
The total lunar eclipse will occur on Saturday July 28 quite early in the morning. This means the moon will be quite low on the horizon, but with the right vantage point you should still be able to view the eclipse.
The eclipse will start at 3:14am AEST. At this point a shadow will begin to cross the moon, however the moon will not start turning red until 4:24am. The full eclipse will be reached at 6:21am, but at this point the moon will be quite close to the horizon. This super-long eclipse continues until 9:28am, however Eastern Australia will have no view of the moon after it sets at 6:55am.
Western Australia will have a longer view of the eclipse, with moonset not occurring until 7:17am AWST. This far west the eclipse will begin at 1:14am AWST.
Unlike solar eclipses and other rare celestial events, watching a lunar eclipse doesn’t require any special equipment or technique. Just go outside, look for the moon and enjoy – and don’t forget to rug up!