A close approach through Mars will brighten the sky all night Friday, July 27, and many parts of the world will simultaneously be able to catch a "blood moon" in a rare astronomical double settlement. Expect the total lunar eclipse to turn the moon into a "blood moon" that is orange for more than a hundred minutes.
Those outside the observation zone can follow the event online via the Virtual Telescope Project.
The Friday red moon comes as part of the longest total lunar eclipse of the century . The sun, the earth and the moon will line up and our planet will cast a reddish shadow on our moon buddy. So it gets the dramatic sounding nickname "Blood Moon".
Mars will also be part of the show because the Red Planet and the Sun will be on opposite sides of the Earth, a phenomenon known as the Mars Opposition. Mars is approaching its next access to Earth since 2003 and makes it appear very bright in the sky. Their appearance near the Bloodmoon after sunset will give the viewers a double vision in red.
The solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Australia, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. Excuse me, North America, you have to look online instead.
The Virtual Telescope Project will build a livestream camera at the Forum Romanum on the Palatine Hill in Rome with a view of the Coliseum and the Arch of Constantine. That should provide a pretty dramatic backdrop. The livestream will start on Friday at 11:30. PT.
This will be a great way for North Americans to take a look at the event. And it can also be a backup option for people in the solar eclipse observation zone when the sky is cloudy.
The weather forecast for Rome is currently demanding clear conditions on Friday. If so, then the Virtual Telescope project of Mars and Moon should be spectacular.
And if you can not catch that Bloodmoon, do not worry. The next will come in January and will be visible from Europe and America.
First published on July 23, 10:50 PT.
Update, July 27, 3:27 pm PT.: Adds additional information about the lunar eclipse and when the next bloodmoon will be visible.