Friday 23 March 2018

Lunar eclipse: stargazers treated to spectacular 'blood red' moon

The blood red moon during a total lunar eclipse as seen from Naha, on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Photo: AP
The blood red moon during a total lunar eclipse as seen from Naha, on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Photo: AP
The moon as it undergoes a total lunar eclipse as seen from Jerusalem. Photo: AP

Andrew Hough

Stargazers across the globe have been treated to a spectacular lunar eclipse, the longest in more than a decade, which turned the moon a blood red colour .

Astronomers throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia were treated to the longest lunar eclipse in 11 years and the first of the year.

It was best seen in Ireland from the east coast between 9.55pm and 10.15pm last night when the moon turned a deep red as the lunar disk passed through the densest central part of our planet's shadow.

Stargazers with clear skies throughout the rest of the world were treated to the rare visual treat, when the terrestrial shadow started to fall at 6.24pm and lifted just before midnight.

The "totality", which is when the lunar face is completely covered, lasted 100 minutes, which scientists said was the longest since July 2000.

Viewers in the southern Hemisphere, particularly Australia and south-east Asia, were treated to a particularly impressive view due to ash in the atmosphere from a Chilean volcano.

The ash crisis has caused travel chaos in Australia, with hundreds of flights grounded throughout the region. People in American could not see the eclipse.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth casts its shadow over the Moon.

The lunar face can sometimes turn reddish, coppery-brown or orange, tinged by light from the Sun that refracts as it passes through our atmosphere.

The specific phenomenon that occurred on Thursday was known as a "deep lunar eclipse".

But the intensity of the colour depended on the amount of ash and dust in the atmosphere. Scientists said the eclipse could be safely observed with the naked eye.

Throughout Asia some avid enthusiasts staked out spots more than four hours before the phenomenon occurred while hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers converged before dawn to catch a glimpse.

But traditionalists were not as enthusiastic about the planetary changes, with authorities at several Indian temples reportedly shutting their doors to protect them from the supposed "evil effects" of the eclipse.

There will be partial solar eclipses on July 1 and November 25, but the next total solar eclipse will not take place until November 13, 2012.

It will run in a track across North Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and southerly South America.

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