It can be casual to forget the magnificence of our planet and get lost in our tight-knit everyday lives. In the advent of a lunar eclipse (January 31, 2018) it is worth knowing that when it comes to eclipses, Earth holds a pristine status in our solar system.
To understand why, we need to shift our perspective a little bit and ask -”How would it be like if you were on Io (one of the moons of Jupiter)?”
The most startling thing about this experience would be that the Jupiter would appear 36 times larger than the full moon (from earth). That’s HUGE!
Also since the moons of Jupiter lies in the same plane, you would be witnessing an eclipse every 42 hours …
Moons – Io, Ganymede, and Callisto in solar eclipse
In addition, since Jupiter has many moons (A large family of them), you might be able to catch some your fellow moons in eclipse with the sun. Their shadows though, appearing like tiny dots on the gas giant.
Saturn and its eclipse
If we make a slight detour and end up in Saturn, this is what it looks like when Saturn occults the Sun. Although not technically an eclipse, this image was captured by Cassini with Sun behind the planet, setting the rings and its atmosphere aglow.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.
When people are not overwhelmed by the beauty of its rings, they notice the shadows cast by its many moons. Here is the solar eclipse of Saturn’s moon Titan:
Eclipse on our friendly neighbor – Mars
Larger of Mars’s two moons, Phobos passing in front of the sun – Solar eclipse.
Let’s forget about all those planets that are far away, if one were make a visit to Mars which is ~12 light minutes away, one would witness only partial eclipses because the moons of Mars are too small to block the entire sun.
Eclipses on Earth
One Earth, One moon, A spectacular eclipse
Eclipses on earth, on the other hand, are too surreal to be true. Our planet not only supports life but also is placed in a prime location that would cause a total solar eclipse.
And as though the entire universe wanted to amuse us even more, the moon’s orbital plane is slightly misaligned from the Earth’s orbital plane around the sun which makes an occurrence of an eclipse predictable but yet not long enough; leaving us in a state of desperation wanting for more.
Mars has always been an interesting planet to us earthlings. The possibility of life, rovers leaving no stone unturned(literally), it’s demanding reddish appearance and now those breathtaking sunsets.Mesmerizing isn’t it ? But,
Why are martian sunsets blue?
Here on earth, sunsets are bright with Yellow, Orange and Red colors dazzling in the sky. During sunsets, the light from the sun has to travel a longer distance in our atmosphere to reach the earth.
Consequently, all the blue and violet light is scattered( thrown in various directions) by the particles in our atmosphere leaving behind only shades of yellow, orange and red, which is what you see. This phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering.
On mars, the reverse effect occurs. The martian dust is smaller and more abundant than on earth and it incidentally happens to be just the right size that it absorbs the blue light whilst scattering the red ones across the sky. This makes martian sunsets blue :).
Stay tuned, there is more space stuff coming your way.