If we have clear skies on Friday 27 July 2018 then we may be able to witness one of the longest lunar eclipse events for a while. A full moon is required for a lunar eclipse. The earth will begin to cast a shadow on the moon at approximately 19h14 (a penumbral eclipse will begin) and at 20h24 a partial eclipse will begin (the moon will start to get red). Light is filtered by the Earth’s gaseous atmosphere – the green to violet range of colours gets filtered out more than the red and folk on Earth will see the Moon presenting as a rusty, red or dark grey (see the photographs below).
At 21h30 a total eclipse of the moon will begin and an almost completely red moon should be visible. The maximum eclipse (when the moon is closest to the center of the Earth’s shadow) will occur at 22h21.
The total eclipse will end at 23h13 and the partial eclispse will end at 00h19.
This will be one of the longest total lunar eclipse events to be viewed from South Africa in a century. In billions of years from now lunar eclipses will not occur as the moon moves away from the Earth at approximately 4 cm a year.