If you were lucky enough last night to have clear skies, you probably caught a glimpse of a rare celestial event. The total lunar eclipse that delighted stargazers last night was the longest of its kind for the 21st Century. Also, thanks to Mars being in retrograde, last night the planet was the closest to Earth as it has been in 15 years. Sights of the red planet as bright as last night's won't happen again until 2050.
Visible from most countries across the globe, the spectacle was at its most impressive when viewed from the Middle East, East Africa, Western China, and India. Sadly, after weeks of clear weather in the UK and Ireland, cloud cover obstructed much of the view of the once-in-a-century event.
Why the Moon Turns Red: Understanding the Science of the Blood Moon
The enchanting red color of the moon was caused by sunlight being deflected through the Earth's atmosphere. During a total lunar eclipse, the sun, Earth, and moon are all in perfect alignment. When the moon passes behind the shadow of the Earth, the sun's light is refracted and gives the moon its red appearance. The visible shade of the moon depends on the quality of the atmosphere. Brighter, more vibrant reds were visible in areas where the Earth's atmosphere was clearer.
Though there is much we understand about lunar eclipses, some mysteries still remain. For example, when the moon is shrouded by the shadow of the Earth, it is plunged into total darkness and the surface temperature drops dramatically. However, astronomers have found that hot spots remain on the moon's surface during total eclipses. The cause of these hot spots is still unknown, even after decades of research.
Once in a Blood Moon: Scheduling the Next Total Lunar Eclipse
If you missed out on last night's spectacular display for whatever reason, don't worry. Though there won't be an eclipse that lasts as long for another century, you'll still have plenty of other opportunities to witness a blood moon in your lifetime. Last night's eclipse was just the 17th total lunar eclipse of a predicted 85 this century, according to NASA. The next total lunar eclipse is expected to occur on January 21st of next year.
Those with clear skies last night were out in full force to document the impressive display. Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit were all abuzz with amateur astronomers sharing their photographs of the rare and beautiful blood moon.
If you missed the sight first-hand, take a look at some of the gorgeous images captured by photographers across the world last night. Here we've assembled some of the best photos of the 2018 blood moon posted online. Were you fortunate enough to snap some shots of the blood moon too?
Lunar Eclipse feat. Mars from r/pics
Lunar Eclipse July 27, 2018 from r/astrophotography
The blood moon as seen in the alps from r/pics
Today's Lunar eclipse at its deepest point from r/pics
The moon during partial eclipse. from r/pics
Lunar eclipse Cape Town 2018 taken with my canon camera. The blood moon pic.twitter.com/cKVxkPEyiy— I luv South Africa (@drdoconline) July 27, 2018
Red planet and blood moon 28.07.2018 by #TeamNARITpic.twitter.com/oRYkPaNSdJ— NARIT News (@N_Earth) July 27, 2018
Lunar Eclipse from Switzerland (shopped together, cheap lens) from r/pics
Today we assisted to the longest eclipse of the century, here is a photo of the Bloody Moon! from r/pics
Luna rossa o di sangue a Roma sul Colosseo la notte del 27 Luglio 2018 ~ Red or blood moon in Rome on the Colosseum on the night of 27 July 2018 pic.twitter.com/ixZxavbVNI— Armando (@ArmyRenzi) July 27, 2018
Last Night ? from r/pics
Out of This World Pictures: Shooting the Moon From Outer Space
It wasn't just earth-bound photographers who were snapping the blood moon last night. Astronaut, Alexander Gerst, got in on the fun too, taking some breathtaking shots from aboard the International Space Station. This is what the eclipse looked like from far above the Earth.
Just took a photo of the #LunarEclipse from the @Space_Station. Tricky to capture. The slight hue of blue is actually the Earth's atmosphere, just before the Moon is "diving into it". #Horizonspic.twitter.com/X8r7puloQl— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 27, 2018
A partially eclipsed Moon, with our neighboring planet in the background, just before diving into Earth's atmosphere. Just magical. #LunarEclipse#horizonspic.twitter.com/t539jjCNmY— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 27, 2018
Caught the Moon leaving Earth's core shadow, just before setting over the South Atlantic. Last photo of the #LunarEclipse taken from #ISS. #Horizonspic.twitter.com/aNCzerchZ5— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) July 27, 2018