Total lunar eclipse on Friday

2018-07-25 06:02
A total lunar eclipse is sometimes colloquially called a blood moon.

A total lunar eclipse is sometimes colloquially called a blood moon.

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THIS Friday, July 27, there will be a total lunar eclipse from 7.15 pm to 1.28 am on Saturday, (reported to be one of the longest eclipses). The eclipse will be visible to the naked eye throughout Umvoti, many parts of South Africa and the world.

The moon does not have its own light but shines because its surface reflects the sun's rays. During a total eclipse, Earth comes between the sun and moon and blocks any direct sunlight from reaching the moon. The sun casts the Earth's shadow on the moon's surface.

For this to occur, the sun, Earth and moon must be roughly aligned otherwise the Earth cannot cast a shadow on the moon's surface.

Even though Earth blocks sunlight from directly reaching the surface of the moon during a total lunar eclipse, the moon is still visible to the naked eye. This is because Earth's atmosphere bends sunlight and indirectly lights up the moon's surface.

When sunlight passes through the Earth's atmosphere, it gets refracted towards the Earth's surface, and part of it, the colours with shorter wavelengths, gets scattered and filtered out, while the rest, colours with longer wavelengths like orange and red, pass through the atmosphere.

This light is once again refracted towards the surface of the fully eclipsed moon, thus illuminating it in a reddish-orange glow. Because of this, a total lunar eclipse is sometimes colloquially called a blood moon.

Additionally, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars will be more visible that usual.

If any reader shoots a photograph of the blood moon please e-mail it through to the Greytown Gazette for publication next week.

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