The Center for Basic Space Science and Astronomy (CBSSA), Nsukka, Enugu State, says that there would be a total lunar eclipse today, May 16, 2022.
Dr. Bonaventure Okere, stated that the lunar eclipse would be visible from across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria, as well as in several other countries of Africa, North and South America, Europe and parts of Asia.
What is Lunar Eclipse and how does it occur? Lunar eclipses occur when Earth aligns between the sun and the moon and casts a shadow across the lunar surface. A lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon and can last as long as six hours, according to the European Space Agency (ESA).
There are three types of lunar eclipses depending on how the sun, Earth and moon are aligned at the time of the eclipse.
- Total lunar eclipse
- Partial lunar eclipse
- Penumbral lunar eclipse
In 2022, we are going to experience two total lunar eclipses that will be visible in many parts of the world. The first lunar eclipse will occur between May 15-16, 2022 and the second will occur on Nov. 8, 2022.
A lunar eclipse is caused by Earth blocking sunlight from reaching the moon and hence casting a shadow on the lunar surface. The Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow, and the penumbra is a partial outer shadow.
There are 7 stages of a total lunar eclipse:
- Penumbral eclipse begins: This begins when the penumbral part of Earth’s shadow starts moving over the Moon. This phase is not easily seen by the naked eye.
- Partial eclipse begins: Earth’s umbra starts covering the Moon, making the eclipse more visible.
- Total eclipse begins: Earth’s umbra completely covers the Moon and the Moon is red, brown, or yellow in color.
- Maximum eclipse: This is the middle of the total eclipse.
- Total eclipse ends: At this stage, Earth’s umbra starts moving away from the Moon’s surface.
- Partial eclipse ends: Earth’s umbra completely leaves the Moon’s surface.
- Penumbral eclipse ends: At this point, the eclipse ends and Earth’s shadow completely moves away from the Moon.
During a total lunar eclipse, the lunar surface turns a rusty red color, which is why it is called a “bloody moon”. This red appearance is caused by the interaction of the sunlight and the earth’s atmosphere.
When sunlight reaches Earth, our atmosphere scatters and filters different wavelengths. Shorter wavelengths such as blue light are scattered outward, while longer wavelengths like red are bent — or refracted — into Earth’s umbra. When the moon passes through Earth’s umbra during a total lunar eclipse, the red light reflects off the lunar surface, giving the moon its blood-red appearance.
“How gold, orange, or red the moon appears during a total lunar eclipse depends on how much dust, water, and other particles are in Earth’s atmosphere” according to NASA. Other atmospheric factors such as temperature and humidity also affect the moon’s appearance during a lunar eclipse.
In astronomical terms, a lunar eclipse is a relatively common phenomenon, with about three lunar eclipses occurring every year, according to the National History Museum.
Lunar eclipses are more easily observed than solar eclipses, as they can be viewed with the unaided eye by any observer situated where the moon is above the horizon. Because of this, a total eclipse can be seen from any given location. (However note that you most not look directly at the sun during solar eclipse)
Lunar eclipses are among the easiest sky watching events to observe.
To watch one, you simply go out, look up and enjoy. You don’t need a telescope or any other special equipment. However, binoculars or a small telescope will bring out details on the lunar surface. If you were able to see this in your area today. Please share it in this blog for others. We hope that we will get a a clear sky today to observe this rare astronomical event.