Last updated July 24, 2018 at 5:10 pm
It might come with apocalyptic predictions, but no, we aren’t all going to die.
The majestic sight of the Full Moon turning “Blood Red” as the Earth passes directly between it and the Sun is a reminder that we live in a dynamic Universe with moving celestial bodies. On the 27th – 28th July it is a wonderful opportunity that huge swaths of Australia, India, Asia, Africa and the Middle East can enjoy. Especially as this will eclipse will last the longest of any this century. Unfortunately this has also brought out predictable apocalyptic warnings.
The Blood Moon is nothing so sinister as the name suggests and is sunlight filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere and scattered onto the Moon’s surface that is now entirely in our shadow. In other words, we are seeing the reflection of all the sunsets and sunrises of Earth combined.
As for the ‘ominous’ length of the eclipse, this is simple due to the specifics of orbital mechanics as the Moon can move through more or less of the fullest part of the Earth’s shadow (known as the Umbra). In this case it will almost perfectly bisect the shadow ensuring the full eclipse lasts for an impressive 1 hour and 43 minutes. Technically the entire eclipse lasts for 6 hours and 14 minutes but that faint shadow, or penumbra, is hard to notice with the eye.
It’s an early start for Australia with the full eclipse, when a shadow fully covers the Full Moon as it moves into the Earth’s umbra, allowing the ‘blood red’ of all the sunsets and sunrises of Earth to be apparent. This is seen across Australia at the same moment, although local times of course differ. This phases begins at 5.30am (AEST) or 3.30 (AWST) and ends at 7.13am (AEST) or 5.13am (AWST) on the 28th July.