Deborah Netburn / Los Angeles Times
The longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century is coming up, and you don’t want to miss it.
On Friday, the moon will be fully engulfed in the heart of Earth’s shadow for 1 hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds.
It doesn’t get much better than that. The longest possible duration of a lunar eclipse is one hour and 47 minutes, according to EarthSky.org.
If you live in North America, you will not be able to see the marathon celestial event in person — unless you live in the far eastern part of Newfoundland. Unfortunately the event will be occurring during our daytime. But if you happen to be in eastern South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia or Australia, you are in luck. The rest of us will just have to watch online.
Even though the Earth will be lined up directly between the moon and the sun, the moon will not be blacked out completely.
Instead, it will appear to be a deep copper red as it reflects the scattered light of all the sunsets and sunrises on Earth back at us.
If you were standing on the moon at the time of the eclipse, the Earth would look like a black disk outlined in glowing red. That’s because some light from the sun bends around the edge of the Earth where the blue and green wavelengths are scattered by our atmosphere.
There are a few reasons that Friday night’s eclipse will last so long.
Every time there is an eclipse, the moon passes through the Earth’s shadow, but it doesn’t always pass through the same part of the shadow.
As you would expect, the shadow of the Earth looks like a disk. Sometimes the moon passes through the top of the disk, or toward the bottom. During this week’s lunar eclipse, however, the moon will pass close to middle of the disk.
“The Moon is passing very close to the center of Earth’s shadow, so it is passing on a chord that almost equals the full diameter of the shadow,” said Steve Edberg, a recently retired astronomer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada-Flintridge. “In other words, the moon is taking almost the longest possible path through Earth’s shadow.”
In addition, the Earth is farther from the Sun during the northern hemisphere summer, so its shadow is larger than average, he said.
And finally — the Moon is near apogee (the most distant point in its orbit) around the July full moon, Edberg said. So it is moving slower in its orbit and taking more time in the shadow.
Friday night’s lunar eclipse will be more than 20 minutes longer than the last one, which occurred earlier this year on Jan. 31. That one lasted for one hour and 16 minutes, according to NASA.
The next one, which is coming up on Jan. 21, 2019, will be 1 hour and 2 minutes.
The shortest eclipse of the century occurred just three years ago on April 4, 2015. It lasted for 4 minutes and 43 seconds.
Even if you can’t see Friday night’s eclipse in real life, you can watch it on your computer. The website timeanddate.com will be livestreaming the eclipse beginning at 11 a.m. PDT Friday. The partial eclipse will begin at 11:24 a.m. — that’s when the Earth’s shadow will begin to creep across the moon. The full eclipse starts at 12:30 p.m. PDT and ends at 2:13.
If you don’t want to tune in for the whole show, I suggest watching just before 12:30. That way you can see the moon move full into the Earth’s shadow. It will give you a sense of the clockwork of our solar system.
And last but not least: Mars just happens to be in opposition on Friday night as well. That means it will be shining extra-bright in the night’s sky.
The mechanical bull goes into overdrive as Uranus, the planet that rules electricity, sudden rebellion, being woke and progressive ideas, plows into the earthly sign of the bull. Taurus is all about security, comfort, the spoken word, whether it be speeches or through singing, and the exchange of goods and services. You can expect to see cryptocurrencies flourish for the next several years. Barter will make a come back and money won’t be as valued as much as people. Hallelujah! In this present age, it seems as though people are trivialized and money is king. Perhaps these next few years will point us in a direction where we exchange goods and services differently, or at least covet our natural and irreplaceable resources more than what can be replaced.
Someone’s smile, their thoughtfulness, being woke and aware and being of compassionate service to others will win favor.
Since 2011, Uranus was in the brash, opinionated and no-nonsense sign of Aries. Protests, rebellion, social media and self publishing took on a wave of new importance. It was a time when the message was taken right to the masses and the sugar coating and spin of a publicist was no longer needed. Nope, not with Aries. Give it to be neat! On the rocks. Save the chaser.
Themes such as land ownership, real estate, money, food supply and vocal expression will all undergo a huge revolutionary jolt of change. Who owns the Earth really and who is responsible for taking care of our planet? Hold on to your saddles because it could very well be a wild ride! There could be an economic revolution. There could be a massive shift in the way we handle real estate transactions and monetary value. Just what do we value? It’ll be on full display in the coming years, for better or for worse.
The illusion of money and the sanctity of land ownership will come up for review.
The Full Moon in Libra will come at an interesting time. It’ll come opposed to the Sun and Mercury in Aries as well as Uranus. Saturn and Mars in Capricorn will make things rather serious and the Full Moon is a Blue Moon, meaning it’s the second full moon of March. There were no full moons in February 2018 so we’re making up for it this month with 2. Watch for rash actions and don’t move too quickly. Mercury is still retrograde until April 15th in Aries so perhaps a matter surrounding a partner is unclear or will take some time to sort out. That’s fine, give it time, have patience and always strive to be fair and to have only fair relationships, no lop-sided affairs. Each relationship is a delicate balance of give and take. The Libra Full Moon will accentuate this fact. We need others to succeed. No one makes it entirely on his or her own. Success is a team sport and it’s important to play fair.
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