The longest total lunar eclipse in 10 years and the rare sight of an accompanying Blood Moon at mid-eclipse (above) on June 15, 2011, and the Orion Nebula captured at Bishan Park two years ago. — PHOTO: SCIENCE CENTRE SINGAPORE
With the public’s burgeoning interest in astronomy, major celestial events such as the upcoming total lunar eclipse tomorrow are eagerly awaited.
Colloquially known as the blood moon, a total lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are aligned and the Moon passes behind the Earth into its umbra, or inner shadow.
When this happens, the Moon will take on a reddish hue.
Visible in Asia, most of North America, South America, and parts of Australia, this will be the only visible lunar eclipse in Singapore this year.
The eclipse will begin at 5.01pm (Singapore time) and will go on till 10.58pm, according to United States space agency Nasa’s official online page on lunar eclipses.
The peak stage of the eclipse will be at about 8pm and last for close to five minutes – the shortest lunar eclipse of the century.
This lunar eclipse is the third of the current lunar tetrad – a set of four consecutive total eclipses, spaced approximately six months apart.
Tetrads are rare cosmic treats, with the last one in 2003-2004 and the next one set to happen between 2032 and 2033.
For this current tetrad, the first two occurred on April 15 and Oct 8 last year. But the fourth one on Sept 28 this year will not be visible in Singapore.
Due to the hazy skies during the previous tetrad in October, local stargazers who looked forward to the event were left crest-fallen.
Astronomy enthusiast Gary Chee is optimistic that this time round, the skies might be clearer.
He says: “As the lunar eclipse falls on a weekend this time and the weather is hotter, there are higher chances of a clear sky.”
He adds that the next total lunar eclipse will be in 2018, so “it is best to catch it now or else it would be a three-year wait”.
The eclipse can be viewed with the naked eye.
However, those interested to catch the cosmic event close-up through a telescope can attend one of at least four events organised by community organisations and informal sidewalk astronomy groups.
Nasa and Slooh, an online observatory that connects telescopes to the Internet, will also be providing live broadcasts of the eclipse online.
Sources: Science Centre Singapore, Singapore Sidewalk Astronomy and Nasa