World looks to the skies as 'blood moon' eclipse begins


The longest total lunar eclipse of the century will take place on Friday night, and most of the rest of the world will get a chance to glimpse it. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123. From 1:15am to 2:43am, the moon will be in the middle of the Earth's shadow and will appear reddish in colour.

So where can you see the total lunar eclipse? The best views are reserved for people in east Africa.

The Weather Channel will host a live stream on its app beginning at 4 p.m. EDT on July 27 so people can watch on their phones. Mars is also at its closest approach to Earth this week since 2003, making it appear bigger and brighter.

When was the last blood moon?

"It will be the century's longest total lunar eclipse with a whopping one hour and 43 minutes in totality".

Read on to find out all you need to know about the blood moon tonight.

"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 lovely", said Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society in London.

'They will move through reasonably quickly but if that coincides with the peak moment of the eclipse, they could obscure the moon'.

A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big
A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big

"Although there is a lunar eclipse visible from New Zealand every couple of years, on average, being located in the right place to see a celestial peculiarity like a selenelion is much less frequent, and very few people have witnessed one".

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.

The next time a similarly extended eclipse will happen again is in 2025. The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth's atmosphere. There will be another guest during the eclipse, as Mars will glow brightly, giving some unforgettable moments to skywatchers all over the world. In fact, this phenomenon of the moon appearing small is called micro moon.

Unlike a solar eclipse where spectators are advised to wear sunglasses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to the naked eye, so enjoy!

If you are lucky, you may be able to catch some shooting stars associated with the Perseids, an annual meteor shower, while the Moon is totally eclipsed.

Then there are partial eclipses, where just part of the moon passes through the dark umbra, or shadow.

In addition, the event will also be visible in parts of South-America, parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.