NIGERIA, like most part of Africa, Middle East, Southern Asia and Indian Ocean region, will witness total lunar eclipse on Friday, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) said yesterday.
In a statement, NASRDA Head, Media and Corporate Communications Dr. Felix Ale said the eclipse in Nigeria will start around 6:44pm as partial eclipse and developed into a total eclipse around 7:30pm.
The eclipse is expected to reach its peak around 9:21pm and wane from then until it ends around 12:30am on Saturday.
According to the statement, the total eclipse will last for about one hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
Ale explained that no other lunar eclipse in the century will be as long as the one expected on Friday, saying the moon is expected to turn reddish as against the familiar whitish appearance in the period of totality. “Hence the appellation of ‘Blood Moon’, he said.
The NASRDA’s spokesman explained that a “blood moon” happens when earth’s moon is in full eclipse and has no special astronomical significance.
The view in the sky is striking as the usually whitish moon becomes red or ruddy-brown, Ale said.
According to him, the moon orbits around the earth, while earth orbits around the sun. The moon takes about 27 days to orbit Earth and goes through regular phases in a 29.5-day cycle. Lunar eclipses can only occur during a full moon when the sun fully illuminates the surface.
Ale explained that not all full moon has eclipse because the moon orbits in a slightly different plane than the Earth and the Sun.
He noted that when the planes coincide and the earth passes in between the Moon and the Sun, it cut off the sun rays from reaching the moon directly and thereby causing an eclipse.
If earth partially blocks the sun, and the darkest part of its shadow falls across the moon’s surface, it is called a partial eclipse. Hence a black shadow will be seen taking a bite out of the moon. Sometimes, the moon passes through the lighter part of Earth’s shadow, causing a penumbral eclipse and total eclipse occur when the earth completely block Sun rays from reaching the Moon.
The next total lunar eclipse that will be visible in Nigeria, the statement added, will occur on January 21, 2019.