Astronomy Picture of the Day
Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)
is a website provided by NASA and Michigan
Technological University (MTU). According to the website, "Each day a
different image or photograph of our universe is featured, along with a
brief explanation written by a professional astronomer
TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE - 28 September 2015
What made this Total Lunar Eclipse so special was three reasons combined - and I need to note here that not one of those reasons are related to any cataclysmic events, religious prophesies, or superstitions and neither does it hold any direct or indirect threat to mankind!
IMAGE CREDIT: Project Night Sky/Solar Dynamics
The three reasons why the Total Lunar Eclipse is so out of the ordinary are:
a) The Moon was on its closest to the Earth, in astronomical terms it is called perigee - when the Moon is closest in its orbit around the Earth;
b) It was Full Moon, meaning that the Moon's disc is 100% lit by the Sun and fully visible from Earth and with the Moon at perigee it also appears larger than other times when it's Full Moon; and
c) Lastly, it was a Total Lunar Eclipse, which can only occur when there is a Full Moon. This is an occurrence when the Moon, Earth and Sun are aligned in that order and the Moon then passes through the Earth shadow, shining a deep orange/red.
For centuries Lunar Eclipses have been thought to hold some mystical power, and occurrences such as this past Total Lunar Eclipse, often tend to spark humans' imaginations into the most bizarre and superstitious. However, fact of the matter is that there is no truth in these "mystic urban legends" of Full Moon, Total Lunar Eclipse - or as often referred to as "Blood Moon", a term I believe coined purely to invoke sensationalism - and in some instances panic.
It is random, a true coincidence that the above three factors combined to give us a show of magnificence for all to enjoy the splendour of our Solar System and Universe.
Eclipses happen only during the new moon phase, when the moon moves to the side of Earth facing the sun. However, because the moon orbits Earth at a slight angle, the three bodies will only periodically line up on the same plane to create an eclipse.
DARK-TIME VIEWING TABLE
*All times shown are
South African Standard Time (SAST)
21 October 2015 - Orionid Meteor Shower.