'Blood moon' to awe sky watchers in Americas, Asia on Wednesday

During the total lunar eclipse, which will last several hours, the Earth will pass between the sun and the moon. -- PHOTO: SCIENCE CENTRE
During the total lunar eclipse, which will last several hours, the Earth will pass between the sun and the moon. -- PHOTO: SCIENCE CENTRE

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Stargazers in the Americas and Asia will be treated to a lunar eclipse on Wednesday, a celestial show that will bathe the moon in red to create a "blood moon". During the total lunar eclipse, which will last several hours, the Earth will pass between the sun and the moon.

As it happens, the moon will reflect sunlight scattered in the Earth's atmosphere, taking on a red hue. The eclipse will start at 8am GMT, or 4am on the east coast of the United States, and will continue until sunrise. Sky watchers will also be able to see the phenomenon live via Nasa's robotic telescope service, Slooh.

In Singapore, The Astronomical Society of Singapore (TASOS) has organised an observation gathering on Oct 8 for the rare total lunar eclipse at Labrador Park, near the Tanjong Berlayer Beacon facing Sentosa. The start of the total lunar eclipse phase is estimated to be at 6.25pm Singapore time, and since Singapore's moonrise is estimated to be at 6.52pm on Oct 8, the moon is expected to be in total eclipse phase from the time of its rising.

Nasa's lunar experts will answer questions ahead of the celestial event via live web chat from 7am GMT. "Nasa moon experts will be up all night on Oct 8 to answer your questions," the space agency said.

The eclipse is the second of four total lunar eclipses, starting with a first "blood moon" on April 15, in a series astronomers call a tetrad. The next two total lunar eclipses will be on April 4 and Sept 28 of next year.

The last time a tetrad took place was in 2003-2004, with the next predicted for 2032-2033. In total, the 21st century will see eight tetrads.

Amateur astronomists in Africa or Europe are out of luck, Nasa said, as the event will not be visible in those regions.