Blood Moon on October 8: Rare selenelion promises to be a treat for skygazers
Mark your calendars skywatchers. A total lunar eclipse will occur on Wednesday, Oct. 8 and while it will be the second and last blood moon for this year, it promises to be bigger and the event offers a rare cosmic spectacle many would not want to miss.
Skygazers could witness the sun rising simultaneously with the total eclipse of the moon, a visual phenomenon known as selenelion. The rare cosmic sight, which could only happen just before dawn or right after sunrise, is marked by both the solar and lunar bodies appearing just above the horizon at almost the opposite sides of the sky.
The time of the eclipse varies depending on the location. The total lunar eclipse will happen in the early hours before sunrise on Wednesday in North America and the Hawaiian Islands so those who typically wake up late would want to set up their alarm so they can rise in the wee hours of the morning.
Those who live in New Zealand, Australia and eastern Asia, on the other hand, can witness the eclipse after sunset on Oct. 8. Partial lunar eclipse can also be seen before sunrise on the same day in South America and after sunset in Western Asia. Unfortunately, none of the eclipse will be visible for those who live in Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said that the moon will look bigger by about 5.3 percent compared with the blood moon seen on April 15 because the eclipse will occur two days after a lunar perigee, or the time when the moon gets nearest to the Earth. A full lunar eclipse is also called a blood moon because of its reddish color and this is produced by the sunset and sunrise seen from the Earth that gets reflected on the moon's surface.
"The second lunar eclipse of 2014 is also total and is best seen from the Pacific Ocean and bordering regions," NASA said in a statement. "The eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in southern Pisces, two days after perigee (October 06 at 09:41 UT). This means that the Moon will appear 5.3% larger than it did during the April 15 eclipse (32.7 vs. 31.3 arc-minutes)."
The eclipse this week will be the second in a series of four tetrads, or consecutive total lunar eclipses occurring in an interval of about six months. This century will only have eight tetrads and the next tetrad will likely occur not earlier than 2032.