Longest ′blood moon′ of century coincides with chance to see Mars at nearest | News | DW | 27.07.2018
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Longest 'blood moon' of century coincides with chance to see Mars at nearest

Much of Germany will have the opportunity to gaze at a colorful lunar eclipse, which will last for the longest spell so far this century. The planet Mars will be close to earth and may be visible during the event.

Residents in certain parts of the world will witness a rare sight on Friday, as a lunar eclipse and the closest approach of the planet Mars in 15 years will both occur at the same time.

The lunar eclipse is coined 'blood moon' for the color change of the moon, as seen from Earth, while it is immersed in Earth's shadow.

"The moon usually turns a deep, dark red because it is illuminated by light that has passed through the Earth's atmosphere and has been bent back towards the moon by refraction," the British Royal Observatory explained.

Totality, the period of time that the moon is fully in Earth's shadow, will last for approximately 103 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes), with partial phases occurring before and after.

This would mark the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, the British Royal Astronomical Society confirmed. The next lunar eclipse of Friday's duration is set to occur in the year 2123.

Who will see it?

No protective eyewear is needed and the eclipsed moon will be visible in large parts of Europe and South America between sunset and midnight, as well as much of Asia and Australia, between midnight and sunrise on Saturday.

In Germany, sky gazers will have a chance to see the Friday's 'blood moon' at approximately 22:22 hours local time (20:22 UTC) and clear skies are expected for much of the country, except eastern and southeastern Germany.

Read more: Spectacular moon theatrics

Mars on approach

Mars will appear at its brightest as it coincidentally happens to travel closest to Earth, a mere 57.7 million kilometers (35.9 million miles) away, on its elliptical orbit around the sun. Observers may be able to catch a glimpse of the red planet, as it will appear like an orange-red star close to the moon.

Potential view of the 'blood moon' along with Mars and Saturn (picture-alliance/ANN)

Potential view of the 'blood moon' along with Mars and Saturn

Read more: Life on Mars? Planet has an underground lake of liquid water

While hoaxers have claimed that Mars will appear as the same size of the moon during the eclipse, the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) dispelled the rumors.

"If that were true, we'd be in big trouble given the gravitational pulls on Earth, Mars, and our moon!" NASA said on its website.

jcg/rc (AFP,dpa)

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