Science

"Blood moon" eclipse, Mars providing treat for skywatchers

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Updated Jul 27, 2018 2:07 PM EDT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Skywatchers around much of the world are being treated to a complete lunar eclipse Friday. The eclipse will be the longest this century. Watch CBSN’s live stream of the coverage of the eclipse from Johannesburg and around the world in the player above.

The so-called “blood moon,” when it turns a deep red, will be visible at different times in Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. When the sun, Earth and moon line up perfectly, Earth’s shadow will be cast on the moon.

“When an observer goes out to look, what they’ll see is that the moon appears to get darker and darker and darker, typically a reddish color or brownish color and that takes place over a number of hours,” Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, told CBSN.

The total eclipse will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. The entire event lasts closer to four hours.

Pitts said that the “blood moon” phrase was only recently attached to the phenomenon.

“It really was more of a public relations or public affairs kind of thing than it was anything else because you know the moon’s color in eclipses can range anywhere from a tan or coppery color actually,” Pitts said. “It could even occur in such a way that it just barely has any color at all. But when you get really deep lunar eclipses, like we’ve had a few of over the last couple of years, a really great way to promote that is if you attach the moniker onto it that it’s a ‘blood red’ moon and that really engages people to go out and see it.”

Moon, Mars won’t appear to be same size

In a special treat, Mars is in opposition on Friday. That means the planet and the sun will be on exact opposite sides of the Earth and will shine its best.

Mars is also at its closest approach to Earth this week since 2003, making it appear bigger and brighter.

The moon 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, according to AFP. NASA, meanwhile, has called out social media hoaxers claiming that Mars will appear as big as the moon during the eclipse.

Lunar eclipse coverage times

CBSN will provide coverage of the 2018 “blood moon” eclipse starting at 1:14 p.m. ET today. Coverage includes reporters and astrologers and multiple angles of the eclipse from Australia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

The partial eclipse will begin shortly after 2:00 p.m. ET. CBSN will have multiple streams beginning at 2:15 p.m. ET, running through the completion of the eclipse.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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