'Blood moon' to dazzle sky gazers for 21st Century's longest lunar eclipse

St Helens Star

The heavens are treating star-gazers to one stunner of a variety show.

Although Mars is visible in the night sky all year round, it will be extremely bright on July 27.

"We should have a coppery red tint on the moon with Mars the "Red Planet" just next to it, very bright and with a slight orange hue itself".

At the same time, Mars will be close to earth, making it appear unusually large and bright. This happens every 26 months. Experts estimate that Mars' brightness will persist for several weeks. "At most perihelic oppositions, including this one, the planet retreats to the belly of the ecliptic low in the southern sky".

The total eclipse will follow at 11.30pm, with maximum viewing at 12.21am.

"If you were standing on the moon in this eclipse, you would see the sun and then the earth would come in the way and blot out the sun", said Fabian.

Wherever you are in Italy the view of the spectacle will all depend on the weather tomorrow night, so we've had a look at the forecast.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up between the sun and the moon, blocking out the sun's light and casting a shadow on the lunar surface.

The total lunar eclipse will coincide with another relatively rare celestial phenomenon known as the Mars opposition.

St Helens Star
Don't miss tomorrow's Blood Moon — the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century

NASA, meanwhile, has called out social media hoaxers claiming that Mars will appear as big as the moon during the eclipse.

The colour of the moon is affected by the light from the sun's movements skimming through the Earth's atmosphere and continuing up to space about 350,000 kilometres away.

In Dunedin, the interval would be reduced to four minutes; in Christchurch, three minutes.

Astronomers' telescopes aimed at the blood moon have seen this happening, as well as another mysterious phenomenon - seemingly random spots of heat, often concentrated around craters. That's because some light from the sun bends around the edge of the Earth where the blue and green wavelengths are scattered by our atmosphere. When it was at its strongest and centred directly over Ireland a few weeks ago, the skies were nearly cloudless.

"On the 27th July, Mars will be at its closest to the Earth, with the moment of opposition itself being in the early morning, although here in the United Kingdom we'll have to wait until nighttime".

Added to that were the unusual cameos of Mercury and Venus - planets that were more typically perched either just to the east or west of the Sun.

The Royal Astronomical Society said that Mars and the moon will appear low in the sky for everyone in the United Kingdom, so a location with an unobstructed southeastern horizon will afford the best view.

Mercury was now not as visible as it had been, but Venus could still be viewed more clearly than normal.

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