‘Blood Moon’ on Monday will be the last eclipse to be seen in Britain for 10 years

‘Blood Moon’ on Monday will be the last eclipse to be seen in Britain for 10 years

In Britain the Moon will be above the horizon throughout the eclipse, though from the extreme southeast of England the Sun will have risen as it comes to an end.

The red effect is due to Earth’s atmosphere. Without an atmosphere the Moon would appear black or even totally invisible when it was within Earth’s shadow.

But because Earth’s atmosphere extends about 50 miles up, during a total eclipse, although the Moon is in shadow, there is a ring around our planet through which the Sun’s rays still pass.

Unlike the other wavelengths the Sun’s red light is scattered much less by air allowing it to travel through the atmosphere where other colours are lost. Finally it is bent by a process of refraction as it leaves the atmosphere on the opposite side, channelling it on to the Moon’s surface.

Lunar eclipses always happen at a full Moon as this is when it moves behind the Earth and into line with the Earth and Sun but most of the time no eclipse takes place because the e Moon’s orbit is slightly tilted so it normally passes a little above or below the Earth’s shadow.

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