A performance lasting 103 minutes.
Friday evening 27 July will see enthusiasts gather in the Indro Montanelli gardens outside Milan’s municipal planetarium, weather permitting, to watch the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century: 103 minutes out of a possible maximum of 107.
And, icing on the cake, with a little luck (and a good telescope) watchers may spot the International Space Station, crossing the sky at around 21.15 at over 17,000 mph. To round off the spectacle, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn will also be particularly bright that evening.
The moon will enter the outer penumbral circle at 19.15, and plunge into the cone of shadow at about 20.20. The total eclipse will start at 21.30 and last until 23.15, slightly longer than the previous record eclipse last January. The total duration of the shadowing of the moon, scheduled to finish around 20 minutes past midnight, will be almost four hours.
That evening, being almost at the farthest point from earth on its trajectory, the moon will appear slightly smaller than usual. It will also have a pinkish tinge, as it is not illuminated by the sun but by reflected “earthlight”.
Milan’s planetarium will provide some telescopes in the gardens, but of course many people will bring their own telescopes or binoculars. Unlike a solar viewing, no protective measures for the eyes will be necessary.
Two other viewing points are being organised at the Cascina Linterno in Via Fratelli Zoia and in the car-park of the Gigante shopping mall in Villasanta, on the outskirts of Monza.