Depending on location, those that turned their attention to the night sky on Friday, July 27th might have noticed a particularly red Moon. Experts refer to these occasions as ‘Blood Moons’ because of how the Moon looks throughout the event.
Image Credit: Giuseppe Petricca
Blood Moons commonly transpire during total lunar eclipses because of how the Earth’s atmosphere interferes with and scatters the sunlight passing through it as the Moon enters our planet’s shadow.
We can compare this lighting phenomenon to the sunrises and sunsets on Earth, in which the Sun’s light is forced to travel through more of our planet’s atmosphere to reach us. Consequently, sunrises and sunsets on Earth usually emit a distinctly red hue.
But despite how common as Blood Moons can be, planetary scientists say Friday’s occurrence was a particularly special one. Why? – Because it was the longest one to take place during the 21st century.
Persisting for a total of 103 minutes (one hour and 43 minutes), Friday’s Blood Moon lasted approximately 15 minutes longer than most. This period, known as totality, was when the Moon appeared its darkest during the lunar eclipse event.
The Blood Moon was visible from several countries; unfortunately, North America wasn’t one of them. In some parts of the world, poor weather meant unsatisfactory viewing conditions. Nonetheless, online webcasts published all over YouTube documented the event in real-time so that everyone around the world could experience it.
Coinciding with Friday’s Blood Moon was a marvelous opportunity to view Mars in the night sky. Our red planetary neighbor is making its closest approach to Earth in 15 years, causing it to appear as a bright dot amongst the rest of the stars.
Did you get a chance to look at Friday’s Blood Moon?