Astronomy. Total eclipse: why will the moon turn red tonight?

While not extremely rare, this event is not to be missed for all astronomy lovers: a total lunar eclipse is expected on the night from this Sunday to Monday. And the phenomenon promises to be all the more spectacular because we will be dealing with the “Super Moon”. Our satellite will be in its perigee, at a distance of only 350,000 km from the Earth.

What is a total lunar eclipse?

They say about a total lunar eclipse when the last one completely goes into the shadow of the Earth. This assumes two conditions: that the Moon is on the other side of the Earth with respect to the Sun, and that it intersects the plane of rotation of our planet around the Sun (the Moon’s orbit is shifted by about 5 degrees from the latter). This double conjunction occurs at least twice a year.

A total eclipse should not be confused with a new moon: if our satellite then seems invisible, it is because it is between the Sun and us and, therefore, presents us with its unlit side in broad daylight.

At what time and for how long?

Visible from most of Europe, Africa and the Americas, this first total lunar eclipse of 2022 will start at 5:29 am (French time) and end at 6:54 am. Thus, it will last almost an hour and a half. half. However, in Europe, the observation time can be reduced: in Strasbourg, the phenomenon will be visible for only about twenty minutes, and in Brest for more than an hour.

What will we see?

The Moon will enter Earth’s penumbra for the first time around 3:30 AM. Then its luminosity will gradually decrease until a black spot begins to spread over its surface: a sign that our satellite has entered the Earth’s shadow cone. The penumbral eclipse will then turn into a partial eclipse around 4:27 AM, and then into a total eclipse from 5:29 AM. Then the moon will be completely in the shadow of our planet. It should lose most of its brightness and present an aspect that can range from dark gray to reddish.

In fact, the Moon will no longer be illuminated, except for the light rays falling on the Earth and refracted in the atmosphere, most often turning red. You must imagine the spectacle from the Moon: the Earth will then be nothing more than a black disk surrounded by a luminous circle, corresponding to the first light of dawn for earthlings.

When are the next meetings?

The next total lunar eclipse will occur on November 8, but it will only be visible in Asia and North America. To see them again in France will have to wait until 2025: the first is scheduled for March 14 but is only visible for about ten minutes at dawn from Brittany, and the second on September 7 shortly after sunset. But the most impressive is expected on the night of December 31, 2028 to January 1, 2029: then the center of the Moon will be perfectly aligned with the centers of the Earth and the Sun, and the eclipse will be visible from a good half of the Globe.

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