Tonight’s red moon or “Blood Moon” is absolutely gorgeous and I hope you had the chance to see it.
The red colour of this lunar eclipse is caused by the same physics that makes the sky blue during the day and red sunsets at dusk.
In fact it is exactly the same as the sunset. The main process here is Rayleigh Scattering; due to the size of nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the atmosphere, blue gets deflected a lot when it interacts with these molecules. If scattering didn’t happen, the sky would only be bright directly between you and the Sun. All the light coming from the rest of the sky comes entirely from scattering, and so it is blue.
Red light is mostly undeflected as it passes through the atmosphere. Key word: mostly. When the Sun is just out of sight, the only light that can reach us must have been slightly deflected. Hence the red of the sunset.
During a total lunar eclipse like tonight, the only light that can reach the Moon must have been slightly deflected by the Earth’s atmosphere. And Voilà! The Moon is red!
And that is how the “blood moon” is like a sunset.
Ever wonder if radio could bring more than just entertainment? Or how far an echo can travel? Or what an anachronistic correspondent would sound like? Then listen to the first ever Podcast of the Boffin below.
Since Joe Hockey revealed the new Federal Budget back in May, the Australian scientific community has been bracing for impact. And now the consequences of a $111.4 million funding cut over 4 years are starting to appear, with CSIRO announcing a 30% cut in their science education and outreach programs.
Most heartbreaking to myself is the downsizing and possible disbanding of the Double Helix club after more than 25 years. As we move into a world where scientific literacy is approaching literacy in importance, the consequences of this short term saving will be felt for generations.
If the Government cannot see the importance of science communication, it is up to us young science communicators to step up and show them why we are needed.
10 and a half years to drive 40 kilometers may not seem like an achievement, but for NASA’s Opportunity rover it is a new (Off-)World Record.
The plucky vehicle has exceeded everyone’s expectations by continuing to run in the hazardous environment of Mars for more than 10 years after it completed it’s primary mission.
Overshadowed by the newer and bigger Curiosity rover that landed back in August 2012, it’s great to see one of the older models still making the news as it continues to explore new frontiers and expand our knowledge of the Martian world.