This phenomenon occurs about twice a year, when the Sun, Earth and Moon are perfectly aligned. The eclipse will be visible from parts of the American, European and African continents.
Some Earthlings will be able to witness a total lunar eclipse on the night of Sunday to Monday, an infrequent celestial spectacle during which the nocturnal star loses its brilliance and gradually turns red. The eclipse will be visible from parts of the American, European and African continents between moonrise and moonset.
This phenomenon occurs about twice a year, when the Sun, Earth and Moon are perfectly aligned, and the Moon is in its full phase. The star slips into the shadow of the Earth, which then shields the sun’s rays, and gradually loses its white glow. But it does not go out: the Earth continues to send light from the Sun back to the Moon, via rays that take on a red tint through a process of “refraction of the atmosphere“Explains to AFP Florent Deleflie, of the Paris-PSL Observatory.
An eclipse of about five hours
“During an eclipse, only the Earth can illuminate the Moon via this re-emission of red rays», continues the astronomer. “It is very intriguing to see a white and brilliant Moon take over the minutes a red and extinguished hue“, he adds. Visible with binoculars as with the naked eye, the phenomenon can givespectacular photos» if the weather conditions are good. The eclipse will last about five hours, and its totality phase – when the star is completely in the Earth’s shadow – a little over an hour.
“Observation from the West Indies or Guyana will be ideal, because the Moon will be very high in the sky“, according to the Observatory. The eclipse will also be visible in full in South America, Central America, and eastern parts of North America. In mainland France, the eclipse will be total at the end of the night between 5:29 a.m. and 6:54 a.m., with a maximum at 6:11 a.m.: the lunar disc will then be completely red. Note that the Moon will set during this phase of totality, at the same time as the Sun will rise. It will therefore be all the easier to observe the phenomenon if you are in the west of France, where the Sun rises later than in the east.
The Moon will be very low in the sky and to take full advantage of the eclipse, you will have to choose a place where the horizon is “cleared to the west“, advises Florent Deleflie. The next total lunar eclipse is scheduled for November 2022, in the middle of the Pacific. In mainland France, the last dates back to January 2019 and the next one will not take place until 2029. Lunar eclipses have shown that the Earth is round.since antiquity», emphasizes the astronomer. “On the surface of the lunar disc, the limit between the shadow and the part illuminated by the Sun is slightly curved: this is the projection of the roundness of the Earth“.
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