South Africans are eagerly awaiting the blood moon that will light up the night sky during the lunar eclipse on Friday. It is expected to be the longest of the century, lasting over 103 minutes. The last lunar eclipse was visible in South Africa over seven years ago. And the next one may only occur in another seven years, in 2025.
Capetonians are lucky enough to have front row seats to this rare astronomical event.
What is a total lunar eclipse and peak timesA total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon enters the earth’s shadow and according to NASA, patches of sunlight reaches the moon but it first travels through earth’s atmosphere.
The atmosphere filters out most of the sun’s blue light causing the moon to look red and create the ‘blood moon’ appearance.
Peak times to view the eclipse are from 9.30pm – 11.15pm. The eclipse will begin at 7.30pm.
There are four places along the Western Cape that will host viewing points for this rare astrological event.
1. V&A Waterfont – Cape Town
Members of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) and South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) will be providing a guided tour with telescopes to view the eclipse at the flag pole terrace. The event will begin at 6pm with a tour of the solar system with use of instruments. The eclipse will begin 7.15pm and reach totality at 9.30pm.
2. Dirtopia Trail Centre and Cafe – Stellenbosch
The viewing will take place in Delvera farm on the R44 near Dirtopia cafe. Founder member of Orion Observation Astronomy Group (OOG) Willie Koorts will provide an explanation on the phenomenon and members of the organisation will be bringing their telescopes.
If there is bad weather there will be a live stream of the event. It begins at 7.45pm and costs R100 per person which includes a soup and bread buffet table.
3. NG Kerk Onrusrivier – Hermanus
Telescopes will be set up in the parking area by the NG Kerk Onrusrivier and viewing will start at 8pm.
4. Lions Head – Cape Town
Hike up the infamous Lions Head to get the perfect view of the eclipse – the top of the mountain allows for a good vantage point. Hikers are advised to take caution during the eclipse as lighting conditions may not be favorable as the sky goes completely dark. Be sure to head up prior to the start of the eclipse.
There are some old wives tales along with folklore superstitions surrounding the full moon – and no you won’t be turning into a werewolf over night.