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Friday, 27 July 2018

Everything You Need To know About This Evening's Lunar Eclipse

Today, Friday 27th July, 2018, different parts of the world will experience a spectacular partial or total lunar eclipse which is said to start around 19:00 GMT and reach its peak after 22:00 GMT. Nigeria is not left out as she will be experiencing a total lunar eclipse. This article will help you to explain things that you should know in order to see the lunar eclipse, if and only if, the clouds will not obstruct you.

As time gets closer  to the occurrence of a total eclipse of the Moon (otherwise called, the Lunar Eclipse), I know so many of you are feeling nervous and eager to see it without being told that it has occurred. With the clouds permitting us, it would be nice to say that you can also see it here in Nigeria.

The eclipse will begin around 7 pm, when the sun will still illuminate the sky, and it will reach its peak after 10 pm, when it will be dark enough to observe it at its best. 

Although they are often taken over by the media with great emphasis, lunar eclipses are a fairly common phenomenon. They record an average of three every two years, but there are no shortage of periods in which they occur three in a single year, considering both the partial and total ones.

Tonight, however, your sudden enthusiasm for the Moon has one more motivation. in recent years the eclipses visible from Nigeria have been frequent, the last being the solar eclipse that was clearly seen. What significant about tonight's eclipse is that it is going to be the longest eclipse we have experienced here in Nigeria.

This evening's phenomenon will be revolving by steps or small degrees. The Moon will begin to enter the penumbra around 7:15 pm, then in the real shadow about an hour later. The beginning of the total will be at 9:30 pm with the maximum eclipse at 10:21 pm. The totality will end around 11.13pm and the Moon will come out of the shadow after midnight and there will be dim light around 1.30am on Saturday, when the eclipse will be over.

The Moon will not disappear completely from the sky, but will appear in the form of an intense dark red colour. Eventually, it will be in the shadow of our planet when it will be illuminated by the solar rays refracted by our atmosphere. The red part of the light that comes from the Sun is in fact refracted by the atmosphere, then projected onto the Moon. It occurs only with part of the wavelength of the sun's rays. The blue component, for example, is dispersed in the earth's atmosphere (that's why we see the blue sky).

Compatibly with the weather, Luna's longest total eclipse can be easily observed with the naked eye. To see it better you can use a telescope, but if you do not have one handy, a pair of binoculars can be enough. If you have the opportunity, move away from population centres, so you can see the sky with less light pollution. You can also consult observatories, planetariums and astronomical associations in your area, usually organising popular events on these occasions.

In astronomy, the word " eclipse " defines the concealment of a celestial body, total or partial, due to another celestial body. In the case of the lunar eclipse, the celestial body to conceal the Moon is the Earth. To explain further, the Moon crosses the shadow cone produced by the Earth, when it is between our natural satellite and the Sun, from which comes the light that usually illuminates the Moon. The eclipse phenomenon occurs only when the Moon is in opposition to the Sun (full moon, the "full moon"). This is seen in the figure below:
When the Moon passes entirely through the shadow cone created by the Earth, there is a total eclipse. On the other hand, if the Moon intercepts only one piece of it, then it is called a partial eclipse. The orbit of the Moon has an inclination of about 5 degrees to the orbit followed by the Earth. Hence, not all full moons lead to an eclipse. It only happens when the full moon is in the vicinity of one of the two "nodes", the points where the lunar orbit intersects the orbital plane of the Earth.

The drawing below can help us. The ellipsis around the Sun indicates the orbit of the Earth lying within its orbital plane. Imagine it as a sheet on which you always draw the same ellipse and the tip of the pencil is the planet. The other smaller ellipsis indicates the path followed by the Moon around the Earth. This orbit also lies on its own orbital plane, which is inclined 5 degrees to that of the Earth. On the first sheet, imagine making a cut between A and B and inserting a piece of paper into it, which will be tilted 5 degrees. The points A and B are the nodes, that is the points where the planes of the terrestrial and the lunar orbit intersect. When the Moon is close to B, the eclipse occurs.

Don’t fail to let us know if you have seen the lunar eclipse or not. Give us your views in the comments section below.

Joseph Etim

Joseph Etim (B. Tech) is a blogger, mobile web developer and a tutor with a zeal for positive effects.

Website: Pepetimsblog

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