The longest "bloodmoon" eclipse of this century dazzled sky-peekers around the world on Friday, coinciding with Mars's closest approach in 1
As the constant companion of the earth sailed slowly across the sky, crowds gathered around the world to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon.
At Lake Magadi, 100 kilometers southwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, young members of The Maasai Community watched the eclipse through a powerful telescope provided by a local couple.
"To this day, I thought Mars, Jupiter, and the other planets were in the imagination of scientists," said Purity Sailepo, 16, to AFP. 19659005] "But now I've seen it, I can believe it and I want to be an astronomer to tell other people."
Unlike a solar eclipse, spectators did not need goggles to watch the rare display. 19659005] For about half of the world, the moon was completely or partially shaded from 1714 to 2328 GMT – six hours and 14 minutes in total.
The time of the complete solar eclipse – known as "totality" when the moon lasted darkest lasted from 1930 to 2113 GMT.
At the same time, Mars hovered near the moon in the night sky, clearly visible to the naked eye.
Amateur astronomers in the Southern Hemisphere were best placed to observe the rare sight, especially in southern Africa, Australia and Madagascar, though it was also visible in Europe, South Asia and South America.
More than 2,000 people, including many children armed with binoculars, gathered in the Tunisian capital Tunis.
"I hope this darkness will bring us happiness and peace," said Karima, 46 without taking her eyes off the sky.
However, bad weather thwarted the cosmic message in several parts of the world.
Widespread monsoon storms and dense clouds hid the moon over much of India and its neighbors
Similarly, zealous observers who had gathered on cliffs and beaches in the English county of Dorset became obscure in the dark due to a cloudy sky leave.
"It's disappointing," Tish Adams, 67 AFP said. "I took some pictures, but there was nothing but a pink streak in the sky."
Meanwhile, frustrated masses of would-be moon admirers comforted themselves on a hill in cloudy north London, entering into a rendition of Welsh singers Bonnie Tyler's 1983 hit "Total Eclipse of the Heart"
The Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro had more luck and cut with their phones and cameras the red moon in the clear night sky.
"I found it very pretty and I liked the planet Mars even more, which could be seen right next to the moon," said Talita Oliveira, 34.
Celestial bodies align
Mars appeared unusually large and bright, a mere 57.7 million kilometers from Earth in its elliptical orbit around the Sun.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is in a straight line between the Moon and the Sun and fades out the direct sunlight that normally produces our satellite glow whitish-yellow
The Moon travels to a similar position every month but the inclination of its orbit means that it normally runs above or below the Earth's shadow – so in most months we have a full moon without eclipse.
When the three celestial bodies are perfectly aligned, but the Earth's atmosphere scatters blue light from the sun, while breaking or bending red light on the Moon, which usually gives it a rosy blush.
This gives the phenomenon the name "Bloodmoon," although Mark Bailey of The Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland said the color could be very different.
It depends in part on "how murky or translucent those parts of the earth's atmosphere are that allow sunlight to reach the moon," he told AFP
In a very dark eclipse, the moon is almost invisible.
The long duration of this solar eclipse was partly due to the fact that the Moon made an almost central passage through the Umbra of Earth – the darkest, most central part of the shadow.
"For those who live today, it" A one-time event, "said Sven Melchert, director of a local society of astronomy enthusiasts in Heppenheim, cited by the news agency DPA
& # 39; scary and beautiful & # 39;
The Moon was also at the furthest point of its orbit from Earth, slowing our movement across the sky from our perspective and thus spending longer in the dark.
NASA has since called out social media counterfeiters claiming Mars would be as big as the moon during the solar eclipse
"If that were true, we would be in great trouble given the gravitational forces on Earth, Mars and our moon! "
Mars appeared instead as a very bright star.
"In the middle of a lunar eclipse, it may look as if a red planet has settled near the Earth – they are both weird and beautiful," said Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society in London.
Red Planet and "Bloodmoon" mate to dazzle skygazers