By Nathan Monroe
Edited by Ferlin Pedro
On the night of Sunday, January 20th, and into the early morning hours of the 21st, a Total Lunar ‘Blood’ Moon eclipse will occur. This grand display can be observed from North, Central, and South Americas.
At approximately 10:36pm local time, the eclipse begins with the Earth’s shadow gradually blocking sunlight from reaching the Moon. The ‘Blood Moon’ occurs just before the entire Moon is engulfed by Earth’s shadow when light from the Sun gets refracted by Earth’s atmosphere causing the red wavelength of light to cast over the Moon.
Traditionally among various cultures, a ‘Blood Moon’ eclipse is linked to an apocalyptic event, either predicted to come in a relatively short period of time or destined to befall humanity in the near future. To some, it is believed to be a night of misfortune. However, modern science coupled with human rationality in understanding the natural world assures us that we have nothing to worry about.
The ruby-like Moon can be viewed from the comfort of your home, though outdoors. The Moon’s transition into an apparent reddish hue is best experienced with the naked eye, but a telescope or binoculars can produce stunning close-up views.
The eclipse in its ‘totality’ phase–that is the moment when the surface of the Moon is completely covered in darkness–is expected to last for just over an hour. The entire eclipse will end around 3:48 am on the 21st. Weather permitting, Guyanese from all regions should anticipate a cosmic show that will surely please the eye. An eclipse of this magnitude would not be seen again for another few years–more reason why this should not be missed. But what exactly is a Total Lunar eclipse anyway?
The phenomenon of a Lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks sunlight from hitting the Moon. During a lunar eclipse, ‘umbra’ is a full, dark shadow covering the lunar surface. The ‘penumbra’ is a partial outer shadow cast. The Moon passes through these shadows in stages. The initial and final stages (when the Moon is in the penumbral shadow) are not so noticeable, so the best part of a total lunar eclipse is during the ‘middle point’ of the event when the Moon is in the umbra shadow. This is expected to occur at 1:12am local time on the 21st.
This cosmic event can be enjoyed with some snacks, comfortable seating (if desired), and good company. Ensure to be in an environment with no obstructions to the sky, particularly where the Moon would be positioned.
Of course, if you have binoculars or a telescope, do have them ready. We hope you enjoy this spectacular heavenly event.
Clear skies, Guyana!