Blood moon: Everything to know about Friday’s lunar eclipse

A blood moon lunar eclipse will illuminate the sky tonight with a bright red glow.

The eclipse is set to appear at 9pm and last until around 10:15pm, meaning that it will be the longest blood moon eclipse of the 21st century, lasting one hour and 43 minutes.

For those interested in the glowing blood moon, here is everything you need to know about the science behind the eclipse and the best places to see it.

What causes an eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth goes between the sun and the moon. When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon it can make the moon appear red.

The moon looks red as it is the red particles of sunlight which are reflected towards us, which is where the nickname ‘blood moon’ comes from.

Where is the best place to see the blood moon?

The blood moon will be visible from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, South America, and parts of Asia.

Tim O’Brien, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, shared his advice with MM about the best place to view the eclipse.

He said: “The key thing really is to make sure you’ve got a view where you can see low down to the horizon.

“As time goes on it will get easier to see because the sky will be getting darker, and the moon will be getting higher.”

Would the clouds affect the visibility of the moon?

As the clouds begin to fill the sky there is always a worry of whether the blood moon will be visible.

“You’ve got to hope for gaps between the clouds so you can see the moon,” said Prof O’Brien.

If the clouds crowd the sky and cover the blood moon, there are other planets to see.

“At this time of year, you’ve got a really good opportunity to see a whole bunch of planets in the sky.

“Mars is actually as close to us as it gets and therefore looks like a very bright red star. That’s just below the moon tonight.”

As well as Mars, Saturn, Jupiter and Venus are also visible at this time of year.

If you miss the blood moon tonight, another eclipse is set to brighten up the sky in January!

Image courtesy of Bro Jeffrey Pioquinto via Flickr, with thanks.

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