On Saturday morning, we’re getting a super juicy celestial treat — the longest total lunar eclipse of the century. The event will take place in early hours of Saturday, July 28. In Australia, we’ll see the moon enter earth’s shadow at 4.24AM with the total eclipse beginning at 5.30AM. The whole thing will last 1 hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest eclipse of the 21st century, and only four minutes off being the longest of all time.
Why is it so long this time? Because the moon is tracking through the centre of the Earth’s shadow during a period when the moon is farthest from the Earth and moving at its slowest. For most of the country the sun will rise as the eclipse ends, meaning the whole thing won't be totally visible against the brightening sky. Although moon-worshippers in Western Australia will be able to enjoy the whole show. But no matter where you are, the eclipsed Moon will be low on the horizon, creating a moon illusion, an optical trick that makes the moon look massive.
Also, in case you were wondering, this is the kind of eclipse you can safely watch without special glasses or equipment. And you should watch it, because we won’t have another total lunar eclipse until May 2021.
But wait, there’s more! Not only are we getting the eclipse, during this same period Mars is closer to the Earth than usual. On July 31 it will make its closest approach, only being a cool 58 million kilometers away. This means it’s gonna appear even brighter than usual. In fact, until September, Mars will be the third-brightest object in the sky after the Moon and Venus. After that, Jupiter will take back the number three spot.
The closeness of Mars will also mean that massive moon on Jan 28 will appear red during the eclipse — blood moon baby!
Loving this article so far? It gets even better! We’re also in a five-planet season: meaning at night, if you have a clear view of the eastern and western horizons, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars are all visible stretched out in a line. Mars and Saturn are in the east, Jupiter is in the middle, and Venus and Mercury are in the west. The five planets will be intermittently visibly together for the next few years, before Jupiter and Saturn move apart. After that, it’ll be another decade till you get this view the gang all together like this again.
But real talk, what’s all this going to do to your body and mind? Well if you believe in this stuff, it’s not that bad. Broadly’s resident astrologer Annabel Gat has stood behind lunar eclipses as a good thing: “Eclipses remove things that are no longer working—power structures, relationships, projects—for the purpose of putting us on our correct path.” although she does add that they also “reveal things to us that we previously couldn't see. Secrets are often revealed, and there is no going back to ‘before’… Managing these new insights and dealing with the ends they often bring can lead to major drama.”
Look after each other people.