BLOOD MOON: Extraordinary evening of sky wonder

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On July 27th, 2018 total lunar eclipse was visible across large parts across Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, and South America. It was an extraordinary evening of wonder in the sky.

It was the longest lunar eclipse this century and Mars shone brighter than it has in 15 years.A reddish tint is, to some degree, common in all lunar eclipses, even partial ones. This eclipse is a total lunar eclipse, which means it will be particularly red.

What happens?

During an eclipse, most of the light from the Sun is blocked by the Earth as the moon travels through the Earth’s shadow. But a small amount of light does actually pass through the outer parts of the Earth’s atmosphere and reflect off the moon. Only red light makes it through the atmosphere. This is why the moon will appear red during the eclipse, and is therefore sometimes nicknamed a “blood moon”.

By observing the Moon with infrared cameras, such as the one on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists get a chance to see what happens when the surface of the Moon cools quickly. This can help them understand some of the characteristics of the regolith – the mixture of soil and loose rocks on the surface – and how it changes over time.

Memories from space

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