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The Longest Lunar Eclipse of the Century Is Coming — All the Details You Need

Here's how to watch an amazing spectacle, including the bonus attraction of Mars, viewable by the naked eye

A lunar eclipse will occur this Friday, and you don’t want to miss it.

The silvery surface of the moon will fall under the Earth’s shadow for four hours, but the eclipse totality — when the moon’s surface is completely blanked out by Earth’s shadow — will last one hour and 43 minutes, making it the longest lunar eclipse of this century.

And most of the world will have the chance to observe it.

The best viewing will be from the Middle East, eastern Africa, and parts of Europe and Asia, according to Fox News. Those in Australia will see it, too. Sadly, residents of North America will have to settle for watching it online (details on that below!).

So what exactly is a lunar eclipse?

When the moon passes within Earth’s shadow, it appears to cover part of the orb, turning it a deep shade of red. (That coloring, due to something called Rayleigh scattering, or refracted sunlight, is the same effect that gives sunsets their gorgeous reddish hues.)

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On July 28, the full moon is at its farthest point from Earth (the apogee), appearing smaller in the sky, which is why it’s called a “micro” blood moon eclipse. It will be passing through space at a point where the band of Earth’s shadow is wider — making the eclipse last longer.

Not only do stargazers have this total lunar eclipse on their calendars, but Mars is also expected to be close to the moon on July 27 and 28, as Geek.com reported, making it easy to spot with the naked eye.

The moon will be low on our horizon when it starts to go dark, and will set while completely dipped in a beautiful dull-red color.

So how to watch this amazing sight for those of us in the U.S., where it will be harder to catch?

The Virtual Telescope Project will broadcast the total lunar eclipse and the Mars opposition live from the top of the Roman Forum on Palatine Hill in Rome.

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“The sky never fails [to amaze] us with its shows, but sometimes it really does … extra work to offer something honestly memorable,” the project page relates.

“Our live feed will show these two leading actors of the cosmic theater while they will be shining above the epic skyline of Rome, the Eternal City,” it continues.

The free viewing session is scheduled for July 27 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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