It’s a great time for those who enjoy a bit of stargazing with this weekend playing host to an epic lunar eclipse that won’t be seen again for another century.
Having already experienced the rare super blue blood moon (a supermoon, a blue moon and a total lunar eclipse all at once) in January, this weekend’s forthcoming blood moon lunar eclipse will the longest of the century, lasting 26 minutes more than the previous eclipse earlier this year.
For the uninitiated, a lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow. This is the opposite of a solar eclipse, which is when the moon blocks the sun from the earth. The eclipse, happening this Saturday, July 28, is expected to last a whopping 103 minutes, with the usually silver-coloured moon turning a blood red colour due to sunlight hitting the earth’s atmosphere and being refracted towards the moon.
Although not the longest eclipse – that record is held by an event that occurred on July 16, 2000, and lasted 108 minutes – another eclipse of this magnitude won’t be seen again for a hundred years. Astronomy buffs will have to wait until 2029 for the next lunar eclipse, with others expected in 2047 and 2094, although none will be as long as the one this weekend.
While the majority of people in North America won’t be able to witness this stunning event, us lucky southerners will be able to experience the total lunar eclipse in all its glory.
It will be visible from all capital cities, although rain is predicted for Sydney making viewing conditions less than ideal.
It all kicks off at the ungodly time of 3:14 am local time, with the partial eclipse expected from 4:24 am before the full thing happens at 5:30 am. Of course, if you just want to get up for the main event then set your alarm for 6:21 am when the full eclipse is set to occur.
As we live in an age where technology rules you can also live stream the eclipse from the comfort of your warm bed via Slooth, a website dedicated to helping people learn about space.
Monash University Associate Professor and astronomer Michael Brown told The New Daily he doesn’t expect the blood moon to be as red as others believe it to be, but that it’s still an unmissable event.
“It’s going to be the last one we’ll see in Australia until 2021, so I wouldn’t miss this event,” he said.
Image: Timetable for the progress of this weekend's eclipse.