There are some fun astronomical events ahead of us on the calendar, and with a little preparation you can catch them all from home. Take the moon, for example.
On Friday, July 27, there is going to be a blood moon, or a lunar eclipse, though not all eclipses make the moon appear red. According to Forbes, the special effect is caused by the indirect light from the sun bouncing through the Earth’s atmosphere and scattering the longer blue and violet wavelengths. All that’s left is that ominous red and orange color.
This event is also the longest lunar eclipse of the century, lasting one hour and 43 minutes. It’s rare for an eclipse of this nature to take place in July—the perfect month to sit out in a field at night and stare at the sky. Here’s how to take advantage of the opportunity.
The good news is that you don’t need a telescope or special glasses to witness this eclipse. The bad news is that you still have to be in the right part of Earth to see it. Folks in Australia, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe are in the right quadrants. North Americans are going to be missing out.
For those with prime moon-watching real estate, if the sky is clear, you should be able to find it pretty easily and enjoy. To figure out the best time in your area, use Timeanddate.com. They have several helpful pages for tracking moon events, and can tell you when it’s time to turn off the TV and go to the window.
If your area is in the wrong place, cloudy, or you just hate bugs, you can watch the blood moon on your computer screen. CNET reports that the Virtual Telescope Project is setting up in Roman Forum on the Palatine Hill in Rome for the rest of us to enjoy. They’ve already started their countdown on YouTube, where you have the option of setting a reminder to come in and watch.
As a bonus, Mars is in opposition to the Sun, meaning it is on the opposite side of the Earth from our live-giving star. That means it’ll appear brighter and closer than usual, and we’ll have two glowing red orbs starring down at us. If only I was in the right country to get freaked out by the heavens’ bloody gaze.
Interested in the Space-Race? Check out our other article concerning Boeing.