Stargazers — and even those excited about their new telephoto lenses — unite!
Next month, the world will witness the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century, according to reports. The eclipse, which will last one hour and 43 minutes, will also feature a "blood moon" — which is a non-scientific term used to refer to the red tinge on a fully eclipsed Moon.
"A partial eclipse precedes and follows the century's longest total lunar eclipse, each time lasting one hour and six minutes. So, from start to finish, the moon takes nearly four hours to cross the Earth's dark umbral shadow," the report quoted astronomer Bruce McClure as saying.
However, instead of completely disappearing from sight, the Moon this year will wear a red tinge during the total eclipse due to sunlight being scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere.
In what seems like a bizarre coincidence, Mars will also observe the closest distance from Earth in 15 years during the July lunar eclipse.
On 27 July, Mars will be in opposition to the Sun, meaning it will be opposite the Sun in Earth's sky, just 51 days before it passes through perihelion, which is its closest point relative to the Sun in its orbit. As a result, as Space points out, the minimum distance between Mars and Earth will shrink to about 57.58 million kilometres on 30 July.
On that day, the Red Planet will shine brightly at magnitude -2.8, which means that it will blaze twice as bright as Jupiter, but dimmer than Venus. In other terms, Mars will easily be visible to the unaided eye under a clear sky. The last time the Red Planet was so close to the Earth was in 2003.
Now with the onset of monsoon across India, one can only hope the skies will be clear between 27 and 30 July so that we can observe the rare cosmic circus.