Total Lunar Eclipse

Written by Maya B.

Last year, on August 21st, 2017, A total solar eclipse occurred, and could be seen from across the United States. In some states, like Hawaii, it appeared as a partial solar eclipse, it was still a spectacular sight. This year, on July 27th, 2018 there will be a total lunar eclipse, but unfortunately it will not be visible in New York. It will be visible in most of Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and South America. So if you are planning to travel there around the time of the eclipse, be on the lookout!  

There is obviously a difference between a solar and lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse is when the moon passes behind earth and into earth’s shadow, while a solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and earth, and either blocks the sun completely or partially. That’s what happened last summer. Every year, there are at least two solar eclipses, but there could be up to five in a year! Unfortunately, if you have more than two solar eclipses a year, only two can be total eclipses, but it’s still a cool sight to see. Five total eclipses have happened one time before, in 1935.  

One day in the far future, the sun will be brighter than it is now, and the moon’s orbit around earth will be so far away that total eclipses will not happen any longer. This is due to tidal acceleration, which is when the moon’s orbit starts to accelerate, so it will start to go farther and farther from earth. This will also make our days longer, though not by much – only a few milliseconds every century.   

Tidal accelerations are also the reason why the moon and earth are currently tidal locked. Tidal locking is when a moon or satellite’s (natural) orbital period matches the rotational period, like the earth and moon. The moon’s orbital and rotational period is 28 days. This eclipse will be historical, because it will be in totality for the longest time in this century, 103 minutes. This is because the moon will be close to its extreme point in orbit. From the beginning of the eclipse to the end, it will last around 6 hours, so if you want to see it from start to end, make sure to rest and get up early, depending on where you live.  

A good thing is that viewing the eclipse will be easy, since it will be a lunar eclipse. All you have to do is make sure you are in an area where it is night time, and if you want the best viewing experience, bring binoculars. If you want a clear sky, go to a rural place like a countryside, as there isn’t any smog there. This eclipse will be a central eclipse, which are rare and the darkest type of eclipse, meaning that the moon will appear to be very dark red at the time of the eclipse. A central eclipse means the moon will partially pass through the center of earth’s shadow. This has happened before – the last one happened on June 15th, 2011. I hope many of you will be able to see this eclipse, as it is a phenomenal thing to see.