A Total Eclipse of the Heart, sorry of the Moon on January 31st as Perth’s night sky will come alive with a blue blood super moon.
On Wednesday the 31st of January The Moon passes within Earth’s umbra (Latin for “shadow”) in what’s called a total lunar eclipse.
What’s so special about this you might be asking?
Well apart from the Moon looking copper in colour which is uber cool, it’s also a Blue Moon as it’s the second Full Moon in the calendar month and it’s a Super Moon as the moon will be Full on the same day as it’s at or near its closest point to Earth in its orbit which happens to be elliptical and not completely circular. This combination hasn’t occurred since 1866 and next one will be in 2028.
At the start of the eclipse the Moon will pass through Earth’s penumbra (Latin for “almost, nearly”) where the sunlight will start to be obscured by the Earth and the Moon will start to be covered be the Earth’s shadow. Once the Moon is completely covered by the Earth’s shadow it’ll turn a lovely copper colour. The copper appearance of the Moon is due to Rayleigh Scattering where the blue part of the sunlight hitting the Earth’s atmosphere is scattered by the nitrogen molecules and the red and yellow part of the sunlight continues through the atmosphere and goes onto hit the Moon.
When to view the Total Lunar Eclipse?
This is the first Total Lunar Eclipse for 2018 with the second being in July on Wednesday the 28th of July. This month’s eclipse will begin at 7:09 pm so Perth will miss the very beginning of the eclipse as the Moon rises above the trees in the Perth Hills at around 8:15 pm. The Eclipse will be at its max at 9:29 pm when the Moon will look copper and the eclipse will finish by 12:08 am on Thursday the 1st of February, so the total duration for this Eclipse will be just under 5 hours.
Perth Observatory will be having an event on the night, but with everyone so interested it sold out within a week. To see the lunar eclipse our advice is to go outside your home with your mates, family or loved ones get your favourite outdoor chair or bean bag and enjoy watching the eclipse with your favourite hot or cold drink.
Want to do something special this summer?
We have plenty of night sky tours this summer where you get to come up to the Perth Observatory in the Perth Hills and look through some cool telescopes as our volunteers tell you awesome facts about the nebulas, star clusters and double stars you’ll be looking at and will answer any of your questions.
To book go to perthobservatory.com.au