Stargazers in the Americas and Asia will be treated to a lunar eclipse Wednesday, a celestial show that will bathe the moon in red to create a â€œblood moon.â€
To get you equipped with knowledge on how exactly this natural phenomenon occur, prepare to wow your friends with these helpful FAQs:
What is a â€œblood moonâ€?
Lunar eclipses happen when the moon, sun, and earth are aligned in such a way that the Earthâ€™s shadow covers the moon. During a blood moon, it turns a red hue because of the way the sun is filtered through the earthâ€™s atmosphere, projecting a crimson colour onto the moonâ€™s surface.(Phew!)
Why is tonightâ€™s event rare?
Tonightâ€™s event is the second of a rare set of four lunar eclipses that will happen over two years; the set of four eclipses is so rare, itâ€™s given a special name: a tetrad.
For 300 years, between 1600 and 1900, there were no tetrads. In more recent history tetrads have occurred a handful of times, and lucky for us another is set to happen in 20 years.
Where will the eclipse be visible from?
According to Says, the total â€˜Blood Moonâ€™ eclipse will be in its full glory in Peninsular Malaysia tonight at 7pm and it will last for approximately 20 minutes. However, the lunar eclipse will start an hour earlier in East Malaysia.
In North America, people on the West Coast, especially the Northern-half, are expected to have great views, while those in the East Coast should be able to see the first half of the eclipse in the early morning hours.
Viewers in South America will also experience the early stages of the eclipse. Those in the Pacific Ocean region, like New Zealand and Hawaii, will have the best views.
The eastern coast of Australia will also be able to see the entire eclipse, while Australiaâ€™s west coast will see the moon rise during the early partial phases. Most of Japan and the easternmost part of Asia will see the entire eclipse.
Unfortunately, none of the eclipse will be visible from Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, because the moon will be on the opposite side of earth.
What time will the eclipse be visible?
Technically the eclipse spans four hours, but the total phase â€” when youâ€™ll see the action happen â€” lasts for just under an hour. Over time, the shadow will engulf the moon and the peak red-hue will occur around the middle of the eclipse.
Here’s the timetable courtesy of www.thehive.asia:
How red will the moon be?
Itâ€™s impossible to predict exactly how red the moon will appear, and the moonâ€™s hue will probably change considerably as it travels through a range of shadowy depths.
However, it is known that the southern half of the Moon will appear darker, because it lies deeper in the umbra, while the northern half will look brighter.
The shade of the colour also depends on the Earthâ€™s atmosphere at the time of the eclipse. Erupting volcanoes put more ash into the atmosphere, for example, and can make the moon appear blood red.
What else should I expect?
The Moon will appear 5.3% larger than it did during the last lunar eclipse on April 15, because of where it is in the sky.
Also, keep an eye out for Uranus, which will be very close to the moon. It will appear very small in the sky, like a bluish-green star, and will be located east of the moon.
When will the next lunar eclipse occur?
Tonightâ€™s lunar eclipse is the second in a set of four happening in two years, one occurring about every six months. The next one is happening on April 4, 2015, while the first one happened on April 15, 2014. The final eclipse that will complete the tetrad occurs on September 28, 2015.MYNEWSHUB/earthsky.org