Total lunar eclipse: the moon will appear to turn red for many lucky earthlings

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By Katherine Berjikian  & Euronews
The moon will appear to turn red during the total lunar eclipse.
The moon will appear to turn red during the total lunar eclipse.   -   Copyright  NASA

Many earthlings on Sunday will be able to see the Moon briefly turn red. The event will mark this year’s first total lunar eclipse.

The rare visual is caused by the Moon passing through the Earth’s shadow, blocking much of the Sun’s light from reaching our nearest neighbour.

"The wonderful thing is that when the moon is entirely in the shadow … the Moon will actually look to your eyes to be kind of rose coloured or orange coloured,” said Michelle Thaller, a NASA scientist.

“The only light getting up to the Moon at this point is light that is scattering through the Earth's atmosphere".

However, not everyone will get the same view of the event. Those in South America and parts of North America will be able to see full eclipse.

While others from areas as far apart as New Zealand and Eastern Europe will be able to see a partial eclipse.

The event comes as scientists prepare to return to the Moon’s surface, as it still has much to teach us.

“The thing I find most significant about the Moon is that its surface is largely unchanged for billions of years since practically the beginning of the solar system. And on Earth, of course, we don't have that opportunity," Thaller said.

NASA plans to land a crew on the Moon’s surface by 2024. And next year, it will attempt to land a lunar rover called VIPER.

The rover will look for resources in the Moon's South Pole, such as possible ice, so the agency could one day establish a base camp on our celestial neighbour.

This is a crucial step to be able to one day explore Mars. "When people go to Mars, they will have to be completely independent. They will have to be able to repair their spacecraft, deal with any type of medical emergencies. Even communications will be more complicated with people on Mars," Thaller added.

"The moon is this planetary body that we can stand on and test things, and actually expose our technology to this rugged environment of space.

“And so, to me, it seems an obvious proving ground to go farther out into the solar system."