On 8 October 2014, at 6:52pm, Singapore will have a glimpse of an astronomical phenomenon known as a Lunar Eclipse, otherwise known as a Blood Moon.
It is a mystical sight to witness - our companion of the night gradually dipping into a "blood" red tone that would have surely raisen chaotic concerns and worried gazes in ancient times.
Even today, the Blood Moon has been used numerous times in pop culture and religion.
But through understanding the phenomenon, many have not only stopped fearing the mystery behind lunar eclipses (since it has been figured out), but also appreciate it.
Here are 4 quick points to understand what Lunar Eclipses are all about.
If the Moon blocks the Sun during a Solar Eclipse, what blocks the Sun during a Lunar Eclipse?
The answer is the third party in this relationship, the Earth.
It is incredibly interesting how the alignment of these 3 heavenly bodies creates the Blood Moon in our perspective. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon does not change, much like how the Sun remains the same during a Solar Eclipse.
Astronauts up on the International Space Station will not see the moon suddenly be engulfed in a red aura. In fact, they might see a Solar Eclipse, but in this instance, it is the Earth blocking the Sun, not the Moon.
What we see is essentially the light from the Sun passing through Earth's atmosphere. This light, which changes depending on the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, will bounced from the Moon and is reflected into our sight, thus making us see that the moon is "turning" red.
Why is it red and not another other colour?
Well, take a look at a rainbow. You will see that red is at the top of it, bending the least.
When light from the Sun passes through Earth's atmosphere, mostly red light will pass through it, giving it that reddish glow.
The other factor is the composition of the Earth's atmosphere, which will cause a Lunar Eclipse to differ in 5 distinct levels known as the Danjon Scale.
|1||Very dark eclipse. Moon almost invisible, especially at greatest eclipse.|
|2||Dark Eclipse, gray or brownish in coloration. Details distinguishable only with difficulty.|
|3||Deep red or rust-colored eclipse. Very dark central shadow, while outer edge of umbra is relatively bright.|
|4||Brick-red eclipse. Umbral shadow usually has a bright or yellow rim.|
|5||Very bright copper-red or orange eclipse. Umbral shadow has a bluish, very bright rim.|
Is it a rare phenomenon?
Not really. There will be 20 more lunar eclipses over the next 10 years. (Side note: There are 21 Solar Eclipse occuring in the same time period, with the next one being on October 23 2014).
Why is it then that we hardly see it? The answer is due to Singapore's geometric position, a position absent of the four seasons, of environmental disasters and most astronomical events.
We are simply not positioned well enough to view most of these phenomenons, which is why total eclipses such as the one that happened tonight is a moment to treasure.
Over the next 10 years, total Lunar Eclipses will be visible in Singapore for on 3 occasions: On 31 January 2018, 28 July 2018 and 8 November 2022.
Hint: If you are a residing in Singapore, set your date on 8 March 2016, where we will have one of the best seats in the house to catch a Solar Eclipse.
Why did I bold the word total just now?
Well that's because while most people who simply refer to these phenomenons as Lunar Eclipses, there are in fact 3 types of Lunar Eclipses, Total, Penumbral and Partial.
This diagram by the conversation best illustrates the difference.
Images from Total Lunar Eclipse viewing at Labrador Park with The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS)
We had a great day at Labrador Park. Too bad the haze got in the way, however, that didn't deter astro enthusiast and curious by-standers from learning more about the moon and astronomy. Here are the pictures!
Special thanks to TASOS for bringing down some incredibly powerful equipment to view the phenomenon and making the GIF below possible!
Well hope you all enjoy the pictures as well as learned something about Lunar Eclipses. This is just one of the many astronomical events that we all can witness with just a bit of planning preparation.
Till next time, cheers!
If this article interests you, check out one of my earliest articles - Mind Bomb 011: 5 lunar facts that will leave you in awe.
Do share this blog with your friends so that they can learn more about this phenomenon too!