Wednesday’s total lunar eclipse, the so-called ” Blood Moon“, will see the lunar surface change to a reddish copper color for 14 minutes 30 seconds.
Our atmosphere will project thousands of sunrises, sunsets onto the lunar surface because Earth will be aligned to the Sun and Moon.
This is the glowing red full Moon that west Mississippi will view on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. But what would the event look from the Moon’s surface?
It would be nothing but a total eclipse by the Sun by Earth!
Because Earth hides the Sun, astronauts would see a red circle around the Earth’s limb. This is the sum of all Earth’s sunrises or sunsets.
“You would see the Earth and possibly the city lights, and then you would notice that the ground around you turns red,” Dr. Noah Petro, Project Scientist at NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which is currently orbiting the Moon, said.
It could also get very cold.
Petro stated that the lunar surface cools significantly during an eclipse when the Moon is in darkness and goes from being intensely midday Sun to being at its darkest. “Hopefully, you wouldn’t feel any cooling through your spacesuit,” said Petro. However, the ground would cool significantly.
Petro said, “It would have a pretty immersive effect the same way on Earth during total solar eclipse shadows look different and atmosphere around you cools.”
It can be risky to launch a space mission to the Moon during a lunar eclipse.
NASA plans to send astronauts to Moon in late 2024. However, that could slip. There are two total lunar eclipses in 2025 and one in 2026 .
Petro said, “It all depends on the mission and what its experiments are designed for to survive.” “The Apollo missions were designed to avoid an eclipse on the Moon, but the Apollo astronauts weren’t going to be there. But the experiments they left behind were.”
The Moon has normal day-night cycles. Petro said that the only difference is that it heats up quickly and then gets cold very quickly. This is why thermal change can be quite dramatic. Petro also mentioned windshields that may crack due to extreme temperatures.
A total lunar eclipse can yield a lot of science. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will measure the temperature change on Wednesday.
Is it able to withstand the sudden cold?
A spacecraft in orbit cannot receive sunlight on its solar panels, so it can freeze during total lunar eclipses.
The LRO was built to withstand an Eclipse. “We’ve been at Moon for 12 years now so we’ve seen a lot of eclipses, and we know how spacecraft will react,” stated Petro. “But we didn’t know this until the very beginning of the mission so we were cautious.”
NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, (LADEE), a robotic probe that orbited Moon in 2013/2014, was designed to withstand a total lunar Eclipse, but it managed to survive.
Petro said about LRO this week that because it is a short eclipse, we know that the battery won’t completely deplete during an eclipse. “If it was a longer eclipse, we might not be able to do it.”
Therefore, missions to the Moon and lunar eclipses are engineering milestones that must be planned in advance.
A total lunar eclipse is when the full Moon passes through Earth’s shadow of 870,000 miles (1.4 million km) in space. This happens only occasionally and can last anywhere from 105 minutes (like 2018) to five minutes (like 2015).
It will be gone for just 21 miles (34km) at its outer edge on May 26, 2021. The Moon’s northern part is expected to shine brightly during totality.
It doesn’t matter what, it’s a great event to attend if you happen upon the night-side.