Mars to appear underneath Friday's blood moon; Jupiter and International Space Station will also be visible
The moon may appear deep red during the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century this Friday due to high levels of dust in the atmosphere after recent volcanic eruptions
This Friday, July 27, there will be the longest lunar eclipse taking place in the skies and Mars, the God of War according to Roman mythology, will also be prominent in the sky along with the blood red moon. This celestial event will be the longest lunar eclipse in the 21st century and it's something you definitely do not want to miss.
People in the parts of the world in direct view of the full eclipse will be able to see the moon changing from it's silvery color to a rusty or deep red. It may be exciting times for us but for our ancestors who saw this happening a century ago, it signaled the coming of the apocalypse. Even today, there are parts of the world that see the arrival of a blood moon as spelling out doom for us all.
The only thing that is actually happening with the moon's color change is the fact that sunlight is filtered through our atmosphere and this causes the red shades from the color spectrum to reach the surface of the moon. Mars will also make a spectacular appearance in the sky and it will be directly below the blood moon. The red planet will also be seen at its maximum brightness, according to the Daily Mail.
The last time anyone has ever seen Mars being bigger or brighter than what it will be like on July 27, was when the distance between Earth and the red planet was less than 56 million kilometers apart. Keen skygazers will also be able to spot Jupiter in the south-west and have an opportunity to see the International Space Station flying by overhead.
The Vice President of the Society for Popular Astronomy, Robin Scagell, said, "A total lunar eclipse, Mars, Jupiter and the International Space Station. What more could you want?" He also stressed that the appearance of the moon during the eclipse depends heavily on the atmospheric conditions around our planet at the time the eclipse takes place.
Due to high levels of dust that have been thrown into the atmosphere after the recent volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala, there is a high possibility that the moon will show up as a deep red. Scagell said, "You may see this very eerie-looking deep-red moon rising. We've all caught on to this lovely word 'blood-moon'. It certainly will look very strange. In early days experiencing a total lunar eclipse would have felt like the end of the world. It's not surprising people were terrified by it."
Where, when and how to watch the eclipse
The total lunar eclipse on July 27 will be visible to large swathes of the Eastern hemisphere. It will reach its peak at 9.22 British Summer Time (BST), however, the full eclipse will last for 1 hour 43 minutes.
People in South America will be able to see parts of the final stages of the eclipse shortly after sunset on July 27 while those in New Zealand will be able to see the start of the eclipse before sunrise takes place on July 28. Eager watchers in the United States, Canada, and Greenland will be disappointed as none of the eclipse will be visible over those areas.
Many parts of central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern Africa will be able to watch the entire lunar eclipse. The UK sits just outside the ideal viewing range so that means citizens in the country will only be able to watch a total of 84 of the 103 minutes of the eclipse. This is because the moon will be below the horizon for the country when the event begins.
Even though the moon will appear smaller this time due to its distant position from the Earth on its orbit, it will still be clearly visible to the naked eye. If the sky in your area is clear enough, then just looking up will be enough to be able to see the shadow of the Earth cross the moon's surface. A telescope will help but isn't necessary. You do not need any protective eyewear to be able to watch the lunar eclipse, unlike its solar counterpart. The optimal way to view the event is to be in a low light pollution area like a hilltop or the countryside.