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Friday’s Lunar Eclipse and the Next One in 2669

Lunar Eclipse
Almost Total Lunar Eclipse. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

Friday’s lunar eclipse was not visible in Greece as it passed through North America, Central and South America, as well as parts of Australia, Europe and Asia.

The partial eclipse was the longest in 580 years. It is called a full Beaver Moon eclipse.

A partial eclipse occurs 1.7 days before the moon reaches its highest point, the farthest point from its orbit around the Earth, which increases the duration of the eclipse.

This eclipse was not only the longest-lasting partial lunar eclipse of the century, but the one with the longest duration. There will not be one like Friday’s until 2669, according to the Holcomb Observatory in Indiana, U.S.A..

The total eclipse covered 97 percent of the full moon, and the total phenomenon – along with the Moon entering Earth’s shadow – lasted about six hours.

The longest total eclipse of the 21st century so far had occurred in 2018 and lasted one hour and 43 minutes.

It was preceded by a total eclipse on May 26 this year, followed by a total lunar eclipse on May 15, 2022 and another on November 7, 2022.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Sun, Earth and Moon are almost aligned resulting in the moon passing through the shadow of the Earth and thus taking on a reddish hue.

When does it occur

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned (in syzygy) with Earth between the other two, and only on the night of a full moon.

The type and length of an eclipse depend on the Moon’s proximity to either node of its orbit. A totally eclipsed Moon is sometimes called a blood moon for its reddish color, which is caused by Earth completely blocking direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.

The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth’s atmosphere. This light appears reddish for the same reason that a sunset or sunrise does: the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light.

A lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of Earth. A total eclipse can last up to nearly 2 hours, while a total solar eclipse lasts only up to a few minutes at any given place, because the Moon’s shadow is smaller.

Types of lunar eclipses

The Earth’s shadow determines the type of eclipse and is divided in two parts: The umbra and the penumbra.

The penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbra. The penumbra causes a subtle dimming of the lunar surface, which is only visible to the naked eye when about 70 percent of the Moon’s diameter has immersed into Earth’s penumbra.

The partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the Moon enters Earth’s umbra, while a total lunar eclipse occurs when the entire Moon enters the planet’s umbra.

The total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon falls entirely within the earth’s umbra. Just prior to complete entry, the brightness of the lunar limb– the curved edge of the moon still being hit by direct sunlight– will cause the rest of the moon to appear comparatively dim.

The central lunar eclipse is a total lunar eclipse during which the Moon passes through the center of Earth’s shadow, contacting the antisolar point. This type of lunar eclipse is relatively rare.

A selenelion or selenehelion, also called a horizontal eclipse, occurs where and when both the Sun and an eclipsed Moon can be observed at the same time.

[Sources: NASA, Wikipedia]


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