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Longest Total Lunar Eclipse of 21st Century Coming Friday

Everyone in the world will have the possibility to see this celestial phenomenon, providing the skies are clear

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Lunar eclipse
A total lunar eclipse, also known as a "blood moon," is pictured from Gosford, north of Sydney, Oct. 8, 2014. (VOA)

Scientists say the longest total lunar eclipse of this century will grace the night sky on Friday, turning the moon a reddish color.

NASA says the lunar eclipse will last for 1 hour and 43 minutes with total viability in Eastern Africa and Central Asia. Residents in most of the world will be able to see at least a partial eclipse. However, it won’t be visible from North America.

Scientists say that in the United States the period of totality will start around 4:21 p.m. Eastern time, making it too light outside to see the red moon.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon appears to be red because it lines up perfectly with the Earth and sun such that the Earth’s shadow totally blocks the sun’s light. The moon loses the brightness normally caused by the reflection of the sun’s light and takes on an eerie, reddish glow, giving the lunar eclipse moon the nickname of blood moon.

Mars
The planet Mars is shown May 12, 2016 in this NASA Hubble Space Telescope view when it was 50 million miles from Earth. (VOA)

Scientists say the reason this Friday’s lunar eclipse is especially long is because the moon is passing almost directly through the central part of Earth’s shadow. To compare, it falls just 4 minutes shy of the longest possible time a lunar eclipse could last.

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For those who aren’t able to see the lunar eclipse this month, July has another treat in store for skygazers when Mars makes a close approach to Earth. Mars will appear about 10 times brighter than usual the last few days of the month, with peak brightness occurring on July 31.

Everyone in the world will have the possibility to see this celestial phenomenon, providing the skies are clear. (VOA)

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Supermoon To Meet Total Lunar Eclipse Soon

As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles away.

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Lunar eclipse, Moon
Earth starts to cast its shadow on the moon during a complete lunar eclipse seen from Jakarta, Indonesia, Aug. 28, 2018. VOA

Here comes a total lunar eclipse and supermoon, all wrapped into one.

The moon, Earth and sun will line up this weekend for the only total lunar eclipse this year and next. At the same time, the moon will be ever so closer to Earth and appear slightly bigger and brighter than usual — a supermoon.

“This one is particularly good,” said Rice University astrophysicist Patrick Hartigan. “It not only is a supermoon and it’s a total eclipse, but the total eclipse also lasts pretty long. It’s about an hour.”

The whole eclipse starts Sunday night or early Monday, depending on location, and will take about three hours.

It begins with the partial phase around 10:34 p.m. EST Sunday. That’s when Earth’s shadow will begin to nip at the moon. Totality — when Earth’s shadow completely blankets the moon — will last 62 minutes, beginning at 11:41 p.m. EST Sunday.

cHINA, MOON, shopify
A moon is seen behind the construction site of China Zun in Beijing’s central business area. VOA

If the skies are clear, the entire eclipse will be visible in North and South America, as well as Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and the French and Spanish coasts. The rest of Europe, as well as Africa, will have partial viewing before the moon sets.

During totality, the moon will look red because of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere. That’s why an eclipsed moon is sometimes known as a blood moon. In January, the full moon is also sometimes known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon.

So informally speaking, the upcoming lunar eclipse will be a super blood wolf — or great spirit — moon.

In the U.S., the eclipse will begin relatively early Sunday evening, making it easier for children to stay up and enjoy the show. Plus the next day is a federal holiday, with most schools closed. But the weather forecast for much of the U.S. doesn’t look good.

Moon, Lunar
The moon is pictured behind a Ferris wheel on the pier in Santa Monica, California after a total lunar eclipse, also known as a “blood moon,” Oct. 8, 2014. VOA

Parents “can keep their kids up maybe a little bit later,” said, Hartigan, who will catch the lunar extravaganza from Houston. “It’s just a wonderful thing for the whole family to see because it’s fairly rare to have all these things kind of come together at the same time.

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“The good thing about this is that you don’t need any special equipment,” he added.

Asia, Australia and New Zealand are out of luck. But they had prime viewing last year, when two total lunar eclipses occurred.

The next total lunar eclipse won’t be until May 2021.

As for full-moon supermoons, this will be the first of three this year. The upcoming supermoon will be about 222,000 miles (357,300 kilometers) away. The Feb. 19 supermoon will be a bit closer and one in March will be the farthest. (VOA)