The longest total lunar eclipse of the XXIe century was blush our satellite Friday, dazzling the spectators in the world, while the planet Mars, almost close to the Earth, was full of sparkle. For a lunar eclipse to occur it is necessary that there is an alignment near perfect, the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. Our planet, between our star and the Moon casts its shadow on its natural satellite.
Deprived of the rays of the Sun, the Moon has darkened and took on a hue brick because the earth’s atmosphere deflects the red rays of the solar light into the interior of the cone of shadow. The Moon could then send it back.
The eclipse, which corresponds to the time when the Moon plunges into the Earth’s shadow, was visible, partially or totally, in one half of the world (including the hemisphere that is). It could be observed, depending on the weather conditions, from Africa, Europe, Asia and Australia.
The phenomenon full (penumbra included, imperceptible to the naked eye) started at 17: 14 GMT and was completed at 23h28 GMT. The real show started at 18h24 GMT. The most interesting moment of the eclipse, when the Moon was completely within the shadow cone projected by the Earth, took place at 19: 30 GMT and ended at 21h13 GMT. This phase of “totality” lasted 1 hour 43 mins (103 mins), the longest lunar eclipse of the XXIe century.
Kenya to Berlin, passing through Tunisia
“It is so interesting to see at what point the moon is red, as if it was covered with blood,” exclaimed Marion Rotich, the mother of a family trying to observe the phenomenon with his two daughters in Naivasha, in southern Kenya.
Near lake Magadi, an isolated region far from the light pollution of cities, 100 km south-west of Nairobi, a couple, Susan Murabana and Daniel Chu Owen, had set up his telescope so that the inhabitants of the neighbourhood to admire the eclipse.
“We had already done this on the occasion of the solar eclipse in 2016,” said Susan Murabana. Some 300 members of the local community, for most Maasai, were then come to use their telescope. “It is well to give such an opportunity to people like these”.
“Until today, I thought that Mars, Jupiter and the other planets were in the imagination of scientists,” said AFP one of the young observers, Purity Sailepo, 16 years old. “But now that I’ve seen this, I can believe it and I want to be an astronomer to tell the other”.
At the same time, in Tunis, more than 2000 people had gathered at the Cité des Sciences in the capital to admire the eclipse. Amazed by the color change of the satellite, men, women and especially children with binoculars waiting for their turn to look at the moon through telescopes. Other ran, laptop in hand.
“I hope that this eclipse will bring us happiness and peace”, had hoped to Karima, age 46, binoculars in hand.
In Berlin, people gathered on the Drachenberg, a hill which rises a few hundred metres to the west of Berlin. “For people who live today, it is a unique event,” commented Sven Melchert, director of the association of friends of the stars of Heppenheim, west Germany, quoted by the news agency DPA.
Frustration in London
The rains of the monsoon season, the thick clouds have hidden the moon in a great part of India and its neighbours, which would have had to have a stunning view. Same disappointment in a good part of Europe, where thick clouds disrupted the lunar.
To the north of London, on the terrace of Alexandra Palace, hundreds of people have been frustrated by the clouds obscuring any view of the sky. With a dose of very british humour, they are consolées singing “Total eclipse of the heart”, international hit of the local singer Bonnie Tyler, released in 1983.
In a small resort town in the county of Dorset, in the south-west of England), observers were found on the beaches and cliffs, hoping for a clearing in the sky, without success. “It is disappointing,” said Tish Adams, 67 years of age. “I took a few pictures but there was nothing other than a small streak of pink in the sky. It would have been so good to see her”.
Those who have gathered in Rio de Janeiro have had more luck, grabbing the red Moon in the night sky clear with their camera. “I found it very nice, and I liked even more the planet Mars that could be seen just to the side of the moon”, was pleased with Talita Oliveira, 34 years old.
The other star of the night was Mars, which is located just 57.6 million kilometers from Earth. The naked eye can see a bright dot, whereas with a refractor or a telescope, it is possible to observe it in details. It was the second total lunar eclipse of 2018, the first of which took place on 31 January.
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