Shortest ‘Blood Moon’ Ever Seen
The astronomical event known as a “blood moon” occurs when the sun, moon and Earth align, with the colour a result of sunlight scattering off Earth’s atmosphere.
Saturday night’s eclipse was the shortest of the century, with US-based Sky and Telescope magazine describing it as “unusually brief”.
Views of the eclipse were hampered by bad weather, particularly along the east coast of Australia.
Cloud and rain meant the eclipse could not be seen at the Sydney Observatory, but sky-watchers further south in Melbourne had a clear night.
“It looked like it should look, quite spectacular if you haven’t seen one before,” said Perry Vlahos from the Astronomical Society of Victoria.
The blood moon was the third in a series of four eclipses — known as a “tetrad”.
The first eclipse occurred in April last year and the second occurred in September.
The final eclipse of the series is expected to take place in September this year.
Ian Musgrave from the Astro-Blog website said earlier the eclipse would provide prime conditions for stargazing and Jupiter and Saturn would also be visible.
The entire process began about 8:00pm (AEST), with the moon becoming red just after 9pm. The full eclipse occurred just after 10pm, when the moon appeared completely red.
It was the last total lunar eclipse visible from Earth until 2018.
For the third time in two years, stargazers and apocalyptic doomsayers Saturday are getting their fill of unique celestial events with a total lunar eclipse.
Lunar eclipses happen about twice a year when the moon passes directly behind the Earth into its shadow, or umbra. Total lunar eclipses, or “blood moons” are a little more rare.
But what’s up with the creepy red glow that gives the lunar event its nickname?
Well, the red color is actually not unlike a sunset, but from the moon’s perspective. NASA describes it as “seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once.” And that red glow from behind the Earth gets projected onto the moon.
This total lunar eclipse is the third in a series of four appearing every six months, a phenomenon called a “tetrad” – something not particularly rare for this century according to NASA.