What to expect in the longest total lunar eclipse of the century

The Blood Moon seen from the city of Ashkelon in Israel

REUTERS

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.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned, with Earth blocking the sun's light from fully reaching the moon.

For those in North America, several scientific organizations will offer livestreams of the celestial event.

Curiosity and awe have greeted a complete lunar eclipse, the longest one of this century and visible in much of the world.

Eclipse 2018
Crimson blood moons were enjoyed by thousands of people across the globe

The longest eclipse of the 20th century fell on July 16, 2000.

Reuters charted the eclipse from across the world, capturing a shimmering orange and red moon above Cairo, the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, near Athens, the Bavarian village of Raisting in Germany, Rio beach in Brazil and Johannesburg. In Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, people at an open-air restaurant admired a rare clear view during the rainy season, comparing a live NASA webcast to what they saw above.

The eclipse lasted an hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds.

Rain and cloudy skies could prevent sky gazers from watching Friday's lunar eclipse in Delhi, the city's Nehru Planetarium has said.

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The Virtual Telescope Project will share a live stream of the lunar eclipse just a few degrees apart above the skyline of Rome. Acts 2:20 says: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come".

This gives the moon a unusual red glow as it disappears into the Earth's shadow.

A blood moon rises at Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday, July 27, 2018.

The only sunlight hitting the moon comes from the surrounding edges of our planet giving the lunar landscape a reddish hue or burnt red color. The partial eclipse of the Moon will begin at 23h 54m IST on July 27.

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The ancient Inca were said to have believed a red moon meant it had been mauled by a jaguar, and the Mesopotamians thought it was a warning their king would be attacked.

Our constant companion will also be at the farthest point on its orbit from Earth, making its movement across the sky slower from our perspective, thus spending longer in the dark. This is what makes it appear so brightly in our sky, beginning early Friday morning.

Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, said it was a "very unusual coincidence to have a total lunar eclipse and Mars at opposition on the same night".

"The earth's atmosphere then turns the light red in the same way that the sun appears when it is going down", Prof Fabian said.

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