Total Lunar Eclipse: 31 January 2018

Lunar-Eclipse-2017-Title

Remember the last Lunar Eclipse visible in Australia? Last year, in 2017, just before the Solar Eclipse that sent everyone in the United States crazy (or at least a little crazier than usual)?

Remember how it was at 3am?

There was nothing partial about my dislike for waking up at that ridiculous hour. *ugh*

Clearly, someone heard my complaint and has acted accordingly: Australia is being graced with a Full Lunar Eclipse next Wednesday, 31 January 2018, starting at the far more respectable time of 9.30pm (Sydney time… Because that’s where I am and that’s all that matters).

So What Is a Lunar Eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth and into its shadow. The Moon does not have its own light source; that big pizza pie in the sky is reflecting light from the Sun on to the Earth. So when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are all aligned, it means the Moon will pass into the shadow of the Earth. This also means a lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon. Waxing and Waning Moons occur due to the odd-angle the Moon sits relative to the Earth and the Sun.

explanation of solar lunar eclipse diagram

Image based on explanation from EG Nefarious

Some cultures used to refer to a total lunar eclipse as a blood moon. When the direct sunlight is completely blocked, the only other light seen is refracted through Earth’s shadow. This light looks red because of the ‘rayleigh scattering‘ – that’s the scattering of light by particles. XKCD explains it much better than I could.

Not to be mistaken with a ‘blood moon’ from Zelda: Breath of the Wild, resulting in the resurrection of thousands of Trump-ettes, eagerly waiting to return to their attacks of ignorance and hate.

 

Where Can I See the Lunar Eclipse?

The good news about Lunar Eclipses is they tend to be visible by larger sections of the planet than Solar Eclipses. On 31 January 2018, the lunar eclipse should be visible partially throughout the US, Canada, Central America, Central Asia, the Middle East, and Eastern and Central Europe. For the full-blown total lunar eclipse, pull up a seat in Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, and East Asia. Check your local visibility times through any number of websites; I like Time and Date because they have neat visuals.

 

Is This the Same As a Solar Eclipse?

No, more like the complete opposite. The solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, plunging the world into darkness!! Well, again… an exaggeration but the effect is far more dramatic. You won’t need special glasses for a lunar eclipse; it is totally safe to see—so long as you’re not driving a car, or lying down in the middle of a road, or similar activities. A solar eclipse is also a lot shorter than a lunar eclipse and limited to a smaller viewing area of the world. I also talked about eclipses around the Solar Eclipse of 2017.

 

So, if the spawnlings are still wired and awake at 9.45pm next Wednesday due to the first week back at school, you may want to consider checking the start of the lunar eclipse. Of course, now that it is at a decent hour, if I’m not on the social media you will find me asleep on the couch.