Posted on July 26, 2018

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

On Friday evening, July 27, Qatar and most part of the world will be seeing the last lunar eclipse during this year. This total lunar eclipse will be rare, because it will be the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, where the duration of all phases of lunar eclipse will be six hours and fourteen minutes from start time till end time. The period of complete eclipse -- known as "totality", when the moon appears darkest -- will be one hour and 43 minutes. Total lunar eclipse will be visible throughout most of Asia (including Qatar), Africa, Europe, Australia, Southern America, and parts of Northern America.

Qatar residents have a good chance to see all phases of the lunar eclipse from Friday evening till Saturday morning; where the penumbral phase of lunar eclipse will start over Qatar sky at 8:15pm Doha local time. This phase will be visible only with telescopes. The partial phase will start at 9:24pm and the total phase at 10:30pm, while the maximum totality will be at 11:22pm; where Earth's shadow will block 161% of full moon. The total phase will be end after midnight, while the partial phase will be end at 1:19am, Saturday, finally the penumbral phase will end at 2:28am, astronomer at Qatar Calendar House (QCH) Dr Beshir Marzouk said.

The Moon will rise over Qatar sky tomorrow at 6:09pm and will set on Saturday morning at 5:15am. According to QCH experts lunar eclipses can be seen with naked eye unlike solar eclipses, which need to be looked at using eclipse glass or filters.

Celestial bodies align

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.

This is what gives the phenomenon the name "blood moon", though Mark Bailey of the Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland said the colour can vary greatly. It depends partly on "how cloudy or transparent those parts of the Earth's atmosphere are which enable sunlight to reach the moon", he told AFP. "During a very dark eclipse the moon may be almost invisible. "Less dark eclipses may show the moon as dark grey or brown... as rust-coloured, brick-red, or, if very bright, copper-red or orange." The long duration of this eclipse is partly due to the fact that the moon will make a near-central passage through Earth's umbra -- the darkest, most central part of the shadow.

Eerie and beautiful

Our constant companion will also be at the farthest point on its orbit from Earth, making its movement across the sky slower from our perspective, thus spending longer in the dark. 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. "All you have to do is dress warmly and go outside!" the Royal Astronomical Society advises. "If you want a close-up view of the moon as it turns red, a pair of binoculars is helpful." "All eclipses are spectacular," the society's Robert Massey added. "In the middle of a lunar eclipse it can look as if a red planet has taken up residence near the Earth -- they are both eerie and beautiful and I'll certainly be looking out for it!"

source: The Peninsula

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