Don’t miss the longest lunar eclipse of the century!
The longest total eclipse of the 21st century will take place on Friday, 27 July 2018. The eclipse creates a 'blood moon' that will light the night-time sky in a red hue. It is also called the ‘Buck Moon’, after the new antlers that emerge from buck's foreheads around this time of the year.
Total lunar eclipses are known as blood moons for the reddish glow the natural satellite takes on as the Earth moves between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the otherwise illuminated surface. The rare event will last a total of 103 minutes.
This is at the first eclipse since 2011 that is visible in South Africa and the next one may only occur in Africa in 2025.
What is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse happens when Earth blocks some or all the sun's direct light from reaching the moon. This only takes place during a full moon. The atmosphere filters out most of the sun’s blue light causing the moon to look red and create the ‘blood moon’ appearance. Instead the moon going completely dark, sunlight travels through earth’s atmosphere and bends to reflect a red or red-brown tinge on the moon.
Unlike other eclipses, the total lunar eclipse is safe enough to view with the naked eye, telescopes or binoculars.
The types of lunar eclipses
There are three types of lunar eclipses: the penumbral lunar eclipse, the partial lunar eclipse and a total lunar eclipse. Most of the lunar eclipses that take place are penumbral and are hard to detect with the naked eye or telescope. Although we have a full moon each month there needs to be a perfect alignment between the sun, moon and earth to create an eclipse. A lunar eclipse is different from a solar eclipse which is an eclipse of the sun.
Where to watch the total lunar eclipse:
There will be a guided tour at the V&A Waterfront (flag pole terrace) starting 6pm with the members of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) and SAAO. The eclipse will begin 7:15pm and reach totality at 9:30pm.
Access Grade 6 and 7 Natural Sciences classroom resources here: www.e-classroom.co.za
Grade 6 – The Solar System
Grade 7 – Planet Earth and beyond
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