The total lunar eclipse will shroud the full moon in a deep red glow on the night of Friday, July 27.
With Mars closer than it has been in 15 years, nearly double the brilliance of Jupiter through the naked eye, and the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, space enthusiasts can tune into the skies for a double celestial delight this month. The Red Planet's next closest approach, though not as close as on 2003, will not occur till 2035. Skylovers around the planet witnessed the Super Blue Blood Moon last time on January 31 this year.
In the United Kingdom, the initial phase of the lunar eclipse will have already begun by the time the moon peaks over the horizon.
MP Birla Planetarium director (research & academic) Debiprosad Duari said, "The eclipse on July 27-28 will be the longest eclipse of the 21st century".
On the 27 July we'll be able to see what's expected to be the longest total lunar eclipse of this century!
There was a total lunar eclipse in January of this year. The celestial event will also be the longest partially visible eclipse of the decade. "It will be the smallest full moon of the year".
Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun, orbits the Sun at a greater distance than Earth.
Ms Patel explained: "The moon orbits around the Earth and when the moon passes directly behind the Earth in the planet's shadow, on the opposite side of the Earth compared to the sun, we see a lunar eclipse".
"One final thing is that the Earth's orbit around the sun isn't flawless either, it's an elliptic orbit, and during the summer the Earth is at it's farthest orbit from the sun - it's aphelion".
But why exactly will the full moon turn blood-red during the total lunar eclipse? Mars will also be active during this time. On July 29, it will align itself and come closest to Earth since 2003. Due to the difference of the orbital speed and orbital period, every 26 months or so, Earth passes between Mars and the sun. This is called Mars at opposition.
"Just after the sunset one should look close to the east-south eastern horizon to view this bright planet, appearing 1.8 times brighter than Jupiter", he said. Back in 2003, the distance had shrunk to 55.7 million kilometre, the closest in nearly 60,000 years! That night, the distance between Mars and Earth will be 57.6 million kilometre.
At its closest approach this time, Mars will be only 24.3 arc seconds across and nowhere close to the size of the moon, which is 75 times bigger in diameter as it appears. Though the next opposition will be on October 6, 2020, it will be slightly farther away at 61.76 million km.