The show will be on Friday in the air, with the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century that will make our satellite blush while Mars will come to closer to the Earth. To the naked eye, we will see only a bright spot, but with a telescope, it will be possible to observe in detail.
This time, it is not the Sun that has an appointment with the Moon, but Mars. This Friday night, the sky lovers will love the beauty of it and will be in heaven – not to say the seventh heaven. They will be able to witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the twenty-first century, which will make our satellite blush, Mars will come to closer to the Earth, will shine intensely.
“It is a conjunction of rare and interesting phenomena, ” says Pascal Descamps, astronomer at the Institute of celestial mechanics and calculation of ephemeris (IMCCE) within the Observatory of Paris-PSL. “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, ” he adds.
The show can be discovered with the naked eye, without any danger. Binoculars, glasses and telescopes will allow you to enjoy even more.
The phenomenon will be visible
The eclipse will be visible, partially or totally, in only half of the world. It can be observed from Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia. But it is East Africa, the Middle East and India that will be the best to enjoy the show. Metropolitan France will see only the end of the eclipse, the south of the country being better placed than Paris.
The French people will see the best event, when the Moon being moreover, very high in the sky, while in Paris, it will be quite low.
1 hour and 43 minutes of total eclipse
For a lunar eclipse to occur, there must be an almost perfect alignment of the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. Our planet, lying between our star and the Moon, then projects its shadow on its natural satellite.
Friday, the Moon, which will be full, will gradually return into the dark, then in the shadows to be totally in the shade, before emerging gradually.
The complete phenomenon (including the penumbra phase will be imperceptible to the naked eye) will begin at 19:14 (Paris time) and will end at 1:28 (Paris time). The show will start really at 8:24 pm (Paris time), the moon giving the impression of being nibbled by the shadow.
The most captivating moment of the eclipse, when the Moon will completely in the shadow cone projected by the Earth, will start at 9:30 pm (French time) and end at 11:13 pm. This so-called “totality” phase will last 1 hour 43 minutes (103 minutes), making it the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
“It is a replica of the eclipse of July 16, 2000, which lasted 1 hour 46 minutes, becoming the longest lunar eclipse of the twentieth century (which ended on December 31, 2000),” notes Pascal Descamps.
This will be the second total lunar eclipse of 2018, the first having taken place on January 31 (it was not visible in France). It was a “super moon” because our satellite had a particularly large apparent size. In Monday it will be a “mini-moon”: Our companion will be virtually farthest from Earth and its apparent size will be smaller. Therefore, it will take longer to cross the shadow cone.
Deprived of the rays of the Sun, the Moon will darker and take on a red hue. This color is explained by the fact that the earth’s atmosphere deflects the red rays of sunlight into the shadow cone. The moon can then reflect them.
Depending on the conditions of the atmosphere, including pollution, the Moon may be a very dark red gray or take a red hue more intense if the atmosphere is dust-free.
March to 57.6 million km “only”
The other heroine of the night will be Mars, which will be only 57.6 million kilometres from Earth (the minimum distance will be reached on July 31).
It’s been 15 years since its apparent diameter has not been so big. And it will be necessary to wait until 2035 to see the red planet again so closely.
To the naked eye, we will see only a bright spot but with a telescope, it will be possible to observe in detail.