Yesterday I mentioned that there was going to be a central lunar eclipse tonight, and Africa is one of the best places to be seeing this. As long as you have clear skies this is the case – there are no clear skies in Cape Town today! With massive storms lashing our coastline we are out of luck this evening in witnessing this rare event.
But for those who are lucky enough to be in cloudless skies tonight Eastern Africa is a perfect place to be. It’s going to be the longest eclipse for a decade lasting for around 100 minutes. If you take yourself away from the city lights, away from tall buildings obstructing views, and know where the full moon will be rising, you get to see the spectacle of the blood red moon.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes “behind” the earth into the shadow cast by the sun. The moon moves through different parts of the Earth’s shadow, hence the coloring differences and the deep red hue that will clearly be seen when the moon passes into the earth’s darkest shadow.
During a total lunar eclipse the pure white direct light from the sun is blocked by Earth. Some indirect light passing through Earth’s atmosphere still manages to reach the moon. The redness of the moon depends on this light and also on global atmospheric conditions at the time.
So it is up to you to keep watching for the full color range! The great thing about a lunar eclipse is that you don’t need the protective eye wear that you do for the solar ones!
There are many places that have interesting superstitions around these lunar events. Some relate to pregnant women, children born during a lunar eclipse, health and safety, human behavior and also the ancient beliefs of the wrath of the sun! Whatever your preferences, it is still an event that can be predicted to the minute and the next full central lunar eclipse is only happening in July 2018!
Send us your pictures if you happen to get some good ones!