It was the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years – and it cast a spell over large parts of the world on Friday. Throughout northern and parts of South America as well as Polynesia, Australia and northeastern Asia, it was possible to observe how half of the Earth’s satellite was covered in the semi-shadow of our planet and how it turned red. The lunar eclipse lasted more than three hours and 28 minutes.
It was the longest partial eclipse since 1440 – at that time Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. It won’t be surpassed again until 2669. But for sky watchers, there will be an even more impressive spectacle to watch next year. Then the moon will be completely covered by the Earth’s shadow during a total eclipse.
Lunar eclipse: reddish flash due to refraction of light
The dramatic red color during a lunar eclipse – either partial or total – is caused by a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering. Blue light waves shorter than the Sun are scattered by particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. Red light waves, which are longer, pass easily through these particles.
“The more dust or clouds in the Earth’s atmosphere during an eclipse, the redder the moon will appear,” she said on the US space agency “NASA” website. “It’s as if all the sunrises and sunsets in the world are being projected onto the moon.”
Unlike a solar eclipse, observers do not need any special equipment for the lunar landscape. Binoculars, telescopes, or the naked eye provide a good view of the scene – provided the weather is gradual and the view is not obscured by clouds.
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