The evening of July 27 until the early morning of July 28, 2018, will be a wonderful night for selenophiles and planet gazers as two interesting astronomical phenomena will occur simultaneously which were something to look up to, the Total Lunar Eclipse and the Opposition of Mars. Let us know what to expect during these celestial events.
THE JULY 2018 TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
This so-called occurrence of a “blood moon” happens when the Full Moon is completely obscured by the Earth’s shadow. As clearly depicted in the eclipse diagram, the Earth is situated in between the Sun-Earth-Moon line, in which it blocks much of the sunlight to be reflected on the Moon’s surface. The reddish hue of the totally eclipsed Moon is caused by the passage of sunlight being filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere wherein the red color is being reflected more than the other colors towards the Moon’s surface.
As seen from the visibility map below, the entire total lunar eclipse duration will be visible in the UAE from 9:14 PM on July 27, 2018 up to 3:28 AM of the following day (July 28), wherein the eclipse totality lasts for 1 hour and 43 minutes from 11:30 PM, July 27 to 1:13 AM, July 28. In fact, this is considered as the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century due to the fact that it coincides with the Moon’s apogee and its relative position at the near center of the Earth’s shadow, having to pass it through for a longer period.
At the same night of the July 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse, Mars will be in opposition. This simply means that the red planet will appear at its brightest as seen from the sky. Mars will be situated directly opposite of the Sun in the sky, which would give it further illumination. Also, it will be at a fairly close distance to Earth (near perihelion) in its orbit (about 57.8 million kilometers), making it slightly larger than usual when viewed. This is the second brightest and largest Mars Opposition after its last occurrence in 2003.
With an apparent magnitude of -2.78, it can be seen through the naked eye as a bright reddish point of light. Using a telescope, you might see the red planet as a tiny red dot, and its surface features like the reddish terra, the darker basins, and the light polar ice caps when magnified further.
The sky truly has a lot of surprises. Mark your calendars and get ready to be dazzled with the beauty of space. Clear skies, everyone!