This July's full moon is a special moon because for some viewers in the world, it will appear red. The night sky on Jul. 27 will host what we call a "blood moon", thanks to a total lunar eclipse and a pretty neat illusion. For lucky viewers in South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia, there will be a total lunar eclipse, meaning the sun, the moon and the Earth are all perfectly aligned. While the name "blood moon" might sound gory or spooky, the reason why the moon looks red during the blood moon simply refers to the color in which the moon takes on during a lunar eclipse.
When the moon passes through Earth's shadow on Jul. 27, it will mostly appear to go dark — except for a hint of a reddish tint, thanks to some very interesting optical illusions. This happens because the sun's light is deflected through Earth’s atmosphere — red lightwaves are longer than other colors' and so they have an easier time making their way through the atmosphere. The scattered red-colored sunlight that's bent around the planet, makes its way to the moon's surface, giving it a red tint. It's basically and IRL Instagram filter, meaning we see it as red, but it's not actually red.
Of course the moon itself never changes colors, but even the moon as we know it is an illusion if you think about it. With the sun's light illuminating the surface on a nightly basis, we see the moon as a glowing globe in the sky. When in reality, the moon is a pretty rocky and dull place when you're on it. So when the sun's light isn't able to fully illuminate the moon's surface due to a lunar eclipse, the way we see the moon changes.
For those of you who are in within viewing range, you won't need anything special to see the sight. Simply head outside after sundown and take in the rare and romantic rouge moon, and make yourself comfortable. This blood moon is actually extra special because it's the longest one of the century, gracing the night sky for one hour 43 minutes and 35 seconds. If you think about it, that's longer than most movies, so if you were wondering if you should make a night out of the blood moon, the answer is yes. Set up an outdoor viewing party, serve up some theme-appropriate drinks like rosé or a blood orange cocktail to celebrate the celestial event.
For the rest of us in North America, who will be relying on stalking our overseas friends on Instagram to see it, you can check out TimeandDate.com at 2:00 p.m. EST for live coverage. You can also check out The Weather Channel's app at 4:00 p.m. EST as they too will be live streaming the event for us. The next blood moon will occur on Jan. 19, 2019, which will be seen from South America, Europe, Africa — and finally, North America.