Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Blood Moon 2014


Sky-watchers in Asia and America were treated to the incredible sight of the moon turning red

Called a ‘Blood Moon’ for its red hue caused by sunlight scattering off of the Earth’s atmosphere, the lunar eclipse was the second and last to be seen in 2014.


Wednesday’s spectacle was part of four total eclipses in a two year period and is known as a tetrad. The next two eclipses are expected in 2015, the first on 15 April and the second on 28 September.

The so-called tetrad is unusual because the full eclipses are visible in all parts of the United States, according to the retired Nasa astrophysicist Fred Espenak.

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Crimson glory: All you need to know about the rare blood moon


A red moon during a total lunar eclipse seen over Singapore on 10 December 2011 at 10:35pm. Across the world on Oct 8, sky-watchers will be casting their gaze towards the heavens for a glimpse of the rare blood moon - where the moon appears reddish as a result of a total lunar eclipse. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

Across the world on Oct 8, sky-watchers will be casting their gaze towards the heavens for a glimpse of the rare blood moon - where the moon appears reddish as a result of a total lunar eclipse.

This phenomenal cosmic event begins on Oct 8 before sunrise in North America, and is a cause for excitement among astronomy enthusiasts here too, as the blood moon is expected to be visible in Singapore's skies this evening.

What is a blood moon? When the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned, a total lunar eclipse occurs and sees the Moon passing close to the centre of the Earth's inner shadow - the umbra. The filtering and refracting effect of Earth's atmosphere creates a blush on the face of the Moon, giving it a reddish hue.


Total lunar eclipse October 2014: Best pictures of the blood moon
Skywatchers saw the moon turn a deep copper hue

People living in parts of America and Asia awoke to the sight of a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning, also known as a blood moon because of the copper hue the moon takes as it passes into the Earth’s shadow.

The total eclipse is the second of four over a two-year period that began on 15 April and concludes on 28 September 2015. Wednesday’s event started at 8am GMT, before reaching totality at 10.25am GMT.

The blood moon was visible in parts of North America, South America and East Asia and Australia, while the rest of the world was given the opportunity to watch via live streams from Nasa and the Slough observatory.

related: Watch total lunar eclipse with Nasa and Slooh webcasts

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Haze obscures view of 'blood moon' in Singapore leaving stargazers disappointed
The lunar eclipse as seen from the Marina Bay area on Oct 8 2014 at around 8pm. -- PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

The haze took the colour out of the "blood moon" on Wednesday night leaving stargazers here a glimpse of only the regular eclipse.

The total lunar eclipse which occurs a few times every year takes place when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon. As this happens, the moon will reflect the sun's light on the Earth's atmosphere causing the moon to take on a red hue.

At least 200 people gathered for the observation event organised by The Astronomical Society Of Singapore (Tasos) at Labrador Park, near the Tanjong Berlayer Beacon facing Sentosa on Wednesday.

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Stargazers in Americas and Asia treated to 'blood moon' spectacle
A total lunar eclipse is seen behind a ferris wheel in Tokyo, on October 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

Stargazers in the Americas and Asia were treated to a lunar eclipse Wednesday, a celestial show that bathed the moon in a reddish tint to create a “blood moon”.

During the total lunar eclipse, light beams into Earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow that gives it a red hue.

The early phase of the eclipse began at 0800 GMT, or 4.00 am, on the east coast of the United States. NASA provided live footage via telescope of the eclipse, showing a black shadow creeping across the moon in a crawl that took about an hour.


Will Lunar Eclipses Cause Four Blood Moons in 2014 and 2015?
Why do total lunar eclipses often appear red?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth’s shadow (the umbra) falls on the moon. If the earth’s shadow completely covers the moon, it is a total eclipse. But a partial lunar eclipse happens if the earth’s umbra only partially covers the moon. Because the earth has an atmosphere that bends light around its edge, the earth’s umbra is not completely dark. So, the totally eclipsed moon will reflect the color of the light contained in the earth’s shadow. The earth’s atmosphere scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet) leaving mostly longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the earth’s umbra. This is why sunsets and sunrises generally are red, and why most lunar eclipses are red.

However, a wide range of color and brightness can be found in lunar eclipses. This is based on atmospheric conditions at the time including dust and humidity levels. While the color of some total lunar eclipses could be compared to blood, others are more orange, similar to a pumpkin. Still other eclipses look yellow, and some are very dark—virtually black. One of the most unusual total lunar eclipses was the very long one on July 6, 1982. Half of the earth’s umbra was as dark as coal, but the other half was rather bright and had a peach-like color. No one alive could remember such an unusual-looking lunar eclipse, nor were there any similar reports of past eclipses. In short, most lunar eclipses don’t appear blood-like, so it is a bit presumptuous to assume that any particular future eclipse—or, in this case, four eclipses—must of necessity be “blood moons.”

How unusual are total lunar eclipses? Total lunar eclipses aren’t that unusual; there will be 85 total lunar eclipses in the twenty-first century. The greatest length of time between two consecutive total lunar eclipses is only three years. In between these “droughts” will be occurrences of three or even four total lunar eclipses, each separated by about six months. A little more than half the earth’s surface can witness at least a portion of a particular eclipse. So, from any given location, total lunar eclipses aren’t quite as common as these statistics might suggest.