Feeds

Skygazers prepare for 'blood Moon' caused by Earth eclipse

Planetary shadow could cripple LADEE lunar probe

Intelligent flash storage arrays

North American night owls will be in prime position to catch their best view of a lunar eclipse at around 1am EDT Tuesday as our natural satellite is overshadowed by Earth.

The Earth's shadow will start to cover the Moon's surface at 12:54am EDT and the cover the lunar surface completely between 3:07am and 4:25am, causing a phenomenon known as a blood Moon, in which light refracted through the Earth's atmosphere will make the object appear red or brown. The best views will be in the Americas and New Zealand.

"The eclipse is a phenomenon that occurs when the Earth, moon and sun are in perfect alignment, blanketing the moon in the Earth's shadow", NASA Goddard said in a statement. "The United States will not be able to witness a full lunar eclipse in its entirety again until 2019."

If you're not blessed with clear skies, not to worry – NASA will be live streaming the eclipse as it happens and astronomers will be conducting a live web chat to discuss the phenomenon in depth.

If you do miss the eclipse, there will be more to come, however. Tonight's celestial show is the first of a sequence of four blood moons, known as a tetrad, spread over the next 18 months. The next eclipse is due on October 8, followed by two more next year on April 4 and September 28.

Despite being a well-understood phenomenon these days, the blood moon has been a staple of mankind's mythology for millennia, and even now excites primal emotions of doom in some. But for one man-made object the eclipse could well spell doom.

NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) probe is currently skimming through the Moon's tenuous atmosphere checking for dust samples. The eclipse will chill down the probe to the limits of its engineering tolerances and it may not restart once light – and heat – return.

NASA has prepared for this eventuality, however. The probe, having completed its primary mission, has already been set to crash onto the lunar surface later this month, and so no crucial science will be lost. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.