Moon turns red in longest partial lunar eclipse since 1440

The red-coloured moon is seen over Palas de Rei, Galicia, northwestern Spain, on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
A shadow falls on the moon as it undergoes a partial lunar eclipse as seen from San Salvador, El Salvador, on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
The Moon is seen above Brisbane's Story Bridge during a partial lunar eclipse over Brisbane, Australia, on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
The red-coloured moon in its top is seen over Monte Pedroso, in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, northwestern Spain, on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
The lunar eclipse rises over the skyline of Shanghai,on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS
A partial lunar eclipse is seen from the Sijiaoku lookout in New Taipei City on Nov 19, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years, which bathed the Moon in red, was visible for a big slice of humanity early on Friday (Nov 19) morning.

The celestial show saw the lunar disc almost completely cast in shadow as it moved behind the Earth, reddening 99 per cent of its face.

The spectacle was visible for all of North America and parts of South America from 0602 GMT on Friday, and may later be seen in Polynesia, Australia and north-east Asia.

By 0750 GMT, skywatchers with a cloud-free view in those regions saw the Moon half-covered by the Earth's penumbra - the outer shadow.

Space scientists said on Thursday that by 0845 GMT, the Moon would appear red, with the most vivid coloring visible at peak eclipse 18 minutes later.

The dramatic red is caused by a phenomenon known as "Rayleigh scattering", where the shorter blue lightwaves from the Sun are dispersed by particles in the Earth's atmosphere.

Red lightwaves, which are longer, pass easily through these particles.

"The more dust or clouds in Earth's atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear," a Nasa website explained.

"It's as if all the world's sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the Moon."

Remote video URL

It was projected to take more than three hours and 28 minutes from the moment the eclipse began - when the Moon entered the Earth's shadow - to when it ended.

That is the longest partial eclipse since 1440 - around the time Johannes Gutenberg invented his printing press - and won't be beaten until the far-off future of 2669.

But moonwatchers won't have to wait that long for another show - there will be a longer total lunar eclipse on Nov 8 next year, Nasa said.

Even better news for anyone wanting to watch is that no special equipment is necessary, unlike for solar eclipses.

Binoculars, telescopes or the naked eye will give a decent view of the spectacle - as long as there is good weather here on Earth.

After it passes into the umbra - the full shadow - the whole process will go into reverse as the Moon slithers out of the dark and carries on its endless journey around our planet.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.