Century’s longest lunar eclipse delights skygazers

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APP34-27 ISLAMABAD: July 27 – Different stages of the century’s longest Moon Eclipse in the skies over the federal capital. APP photo by Abdullah Bai

ISLAMABAD, July 28 (APP):Skygazers around the world including Pakistan have witnessed the longest “blood moon” eclipse of the 21st Century on night between Friday and Saturday, reported a private tv news channel.
As Earth s constant companion slowly sailed across the skies, crowds gathered around the world to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon.
According to Pakistan Meteorological Department, lunar eclipse was visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean and Antarctica.
Lunar eclipse started at 10:14pm on Friday and ended at 04:28am on Saturday, making it the longest eclipse of the 21st century. The “totality” period, where light from the Moon was totally obscured, started at 01:29am PST (Pakistan Standard Time)
and lasted for one hour, 43 minutes.
The longest “blood moon” eclipse this century coincided with Mars’ closest approach in 15 years to offer skygazers a thrilling astronomical double bill.
No protective eye gear needed by viewers to observe the spectacle — unlike when watching solar eclipse. Mars hovered near the moon in the night sky, easily visible with the naked eye.
Our neighbouring planet appeared unusually large and bright, a mere 57.7 million kilometres (35.9 million miles) from Earth on its elliptical orbit around the sun.
“We have a rare and interesting conjunction of phenomena,” Pascal Descamps, an astronomer with the Paris Observatory, told a news channel . “We should have a coppery red tint on the moon with Mars the ‘Red Planet’ just next to it, very bright and with a slight orange hue itself.”
A total lunar eclipse happens when Earth takes position in a straight line between the moon and sun, blotting out the direct sunlight that normally makes our satellite glow whitish-yellow.
The moon travels to a similar position every month, but the tilt of its orbit means it normally passes above or below the Earth’s shadow — so most months we have a full moon without an eclipse.
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 long duration of this eclipse is partly due to the fact that the moon will make a near-central passage through Earth’s umbra — the darkest, most central part of the shadow.