Attention space lovers: cancel your plans on Tuesday evening because you’re in for a treat. A blood moon will grace our skies, causing our celestial neighbour to glow a spectacular reddish colour.
Tuesday will be your last chance to catch a glimpse of a blood moon, which is more commonly known as a total lunar eclipse, until 2025.
A blood moon occurs when the sun, Earth and the moon align in such a way that the moon passes into Earth’s shadow.
Dr Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist from The Australian National University (ANU), said this shadow is what causes the moon’s surface to turn red.
“While the Earth casts a shadow into space, a little bit of sunlight skims through the Earth’s atmosphere and into space,” he said.
“Just as sunrise and sunset are an orange or reddish colour, so is this light that skims through the Earth’s atmosphere and out into space.
“When you look at the moon during the total lunar eclipse, you are seeing the sunrise and sunset of the Earth lighting up the moon.”
According to NASA, the more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the total lunar eclipse, the redder the moon will appear.
Lunar eclipses only occur during a full moon, although we don’t always get a total lunar eclipse during every full moon cycle.
“This is because the moon’s orbit is not always in perfect alignment with the sun and the Earth,” Dr Tucker, from the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, said.
“The moon wobbles by about five degrees as it orbits around the Earth. For the moon to move perfectly into Earth’s shadow, it needs to be aligned with the Earth. Sometimes it just skims the shadow and we get a partial lunar eclipse.”
No special equipment is needed to view the blood moon, although a telescope or binoculars are recommended to get the best viewing experience.
The blood moon will also be visible in New Zealand, the Americas and parts of Asia.
BLOOD MOON VIEWING TIMES ACROSS AUSTRALIA ON TUESDAY 8 NOVEMBER 2022 (all times local)
ACT/NSW/VIC/TAS: Starts at 8:09pm, ends at 11:49pm. Total eclipse (when fully red) will last from 9:16pm – 10:41pm.
QLD: Starts at 7:09pm, ends at 10:49pm. Total eclipse (when fully red) will last from 8:16pm- 9:41pm.
SA: Starts at 7:43pm, ends at 11:19pm. Total eclipse (when fully red) will last from 8:46pm – 10:11pm.
NT: Starts at 6:42pm, ends at 10:19pm. Total eclipse (when fully red) will last from 7:46pm – 9:11pm.
WA: Starts at 6:43pm, ends at 8:49pm. Total eclipse (when fully red) will last from 6:43pm – 7:41pm.
Top image: A blood moon, which is more commonly known as a total lunar eclipse. Photo: Andreas/Pixabay
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