Blood Moon in July set to be the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century

The moon will turn red this month during the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century. But don’t worry, it’s not a sign of the apocalypse but a natural wonder caused when Earth passes between the sun and moon. This year, the eclipse takes place on July 27 and will last one hour and 43 minutes.

In an extra-special treat for stargazers, Mars will also appear brighter and larger than usual as it goes into ‘opposition’. ‘It is a really nice and rare opportunity to see an eclipse moon next to Mars in the night sky,’ Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society told The Times.

‘You’ll have two bright objects of such huge public interest…it’s a great chance for photographers.’ The eclipse will be particularly long because the moon will be at one of its furthest points from the Earth, meaning our planet’s shadow is particularly long.

A blood moon is a slightly scarier sounding name for a lunar eclipse. This only occurs when the sun, earth, and moon are aligned when our planet’s satellite passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). Because of this, it gives the moon a reddish-orange colour on the moon, which is why it’s called a blood moon. Whilst astronomers are very excited about the eclipse, doom-mongers fear it heralds the end of the world.

Last week Hasan Ahmad Al Hariri, of the Dubai Astronomy Group, stepped in to reassure the world that the Blood Moon eclipse is nothing more than a ‘natural astronomical phenomenon’. ‘This lunar eclipse is a very long one, people are scared and have a perception that it’s a bad thing,’ he told the Khaleej Times. ‘These kinds of superstitions surround these kinds of phenomenon. We tell everyone that none of this is true, it’s a very natural event that can be observed.’
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