2018 Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century Takes Over Friday Skies

Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 08:26

The longest celestial event of the 21st century entranced skywatchers around the globe on Friday (July 27).

The so-called blood moon was visible at different times in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America when the sun, Earth and moon lined up perfectly, casting Earth’s shadow on the moon, the Guardian reports.

Mars shone bright all night at its closest point to Earth since 2003 and much of the globe also saw a total lunar eclipse turned the satellite into an orange-red "blood moon."

The unusually long duration of the eclipse was caused by a few different celestial factors. The moon was near its farthest point from Earth and orbiting slowly, making it appear smaller and take longer to travel through Earth's shadow. In addition, Earth was near its aphelion, the point in its orbit farthest from the sun, making its shadow appear larger.

The eclipse officially began at 1:14 p.m. EDT (1714 GMT), according to NASA, and the moon slowly crept into Earth's shadow and began first to darken, then redden.

But the real show started at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT), when totality began, and the moon was fully ensconced in Earth's shadow.

The moon remained fully eclipsed until 5:13 p.m. EDT (2113 GMT), with the eclipse at its greatest at 4:21 p.m. EDT (2021 GMT). The event officially ended at 7:28 p.m. EDT (2328 GMT), when the moon fully departed Earth's shadow.

The lunar eclipse is only half of the day's celestial spectacle: Skygazers also get an incredible view of a bright Mars.

Earthlings will next see a total lunar eclipse on Jan. 21, 2019, and unlike today's event, that eclipse will be visible to North American viewers.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst captured this view of the lunar eclipse of July 27, 2018, from the International Space Station.

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