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Historic total lunar eclipse lights up the sky, and brilliant Mars comes close to Earth

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- Friday night brought half the world a celestial treat, visible from Australia and Indonesia to Africa and parts of South America, but the view was shrouded by clouds in London.

The total lunar eclipse lasted for 1 hours and 43 minutes Friday night. According to EarthSky, this was the longest full lunar eclipse since July 16, 2000, which lingered for 1 hour and 46.4 minutes at the end of the last century.

The so-called "blood moon" on July 26-27, 2018, refers to the coppery color of the moon while in Earth's shadow, caused by the refraction of light in our atmosphere at the point when the sun, Earth and moon are in alignment. In fact, from the moon, you would be able to see the sun set behind Earth.

We have a double treat this weekend, if the sky is fairly clear.

Mars, the Red Planet, is closer to Earth than at any time since 2003, and appears bigger and brighter than Jupiter in the southeast after sunset through a good part of the night. Mars is in opposition with the sun, which will make viewing ideal through Labor Day weekend.

Mars will make its closest approach to Earth on Tuesday at a distance of 35.8 million miles, notes NASA, and reach its highest point in the sky around midnight.

Earlier this week, the European Space Agency's Mars mission discerned a lake 12.4 miles across beneath the south polar ice cap.

The detection of liquid water on the frozen planet, where the surface temperature near the lake ranges from about 14 degrees down to -22 degrees Fahrenheit, provoking speculation regarding the possibility of Martian life.

Times of water were previously evident in lake beds viewed by NASA's Curiosity rover. The planet cooled down to the point that the water froze, so for any liquid to exist dissolved salts (brine) that lower the freezing temperature substantially would be present.


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