The Blood Moon lunar eclipse 2018: What time it happens tonight and how to watch it in the UK
You’ve probably heard the term Blood Moon bandied around the past few weeks. And while you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s Van Morrison’s latest album, the reality is altogether more exciting.
The Blood Moon is set to be the longest lunar eclipse of the century, and it’s happening tonight. That’s right. Leave after-work drinks early, put Love Island on pause, book a sitter – the century’s longest and arguably most beautiful lunar eclipse (think rusty, ethereal hues of red lighting up the sky) will be gracing earthling viewers tonight.
The Blood Moon will be visible from approximately 8.30pm BST, with visibility peaking at 9.21pm, and eventually winding down by around 10.13pm. In honour of this cosmic spectacle, we’ve collated everything you need to know about the Blood Moon.
Here is your one-stop shop for how, why, where and when to watch Blood Moon.
What is a Blood Moon?
Essentially, a Blood Moon lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the moon, casting a shadow on the latter and forming a total eclipse.
And this is no regular lunar eclipse. The moon is at the furthest point from us in its orbit, meaning it’ll take longer to pass through the shadow, thus serving up the longest lunar eclipse we’ve seen in a century.
What can we expect to see? The moon will turn a spectacular reddy-brown colour, which you won’t need any special equipment to view (unlike with solar eclipses). Lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye, although budding astronomers might prefer to use binoculars or a telescope.
When is the Blood Moon?
Blood Moon is coming this Friday – on 27 July – so if you’ve got big plans you might want to put them on hold. We’ll be treated to the cosmic display for almost two hours; experts reckon the Blood Moon will last approximately one hour and 43 minutes in total.
According to EarthSky.org, the optimal time to view the Blood Moon is at 9:21pm BST, and the total event will last from 8.30pm to 10.13pm BST.
How to watch the Blood Moon
If you’re in eastern Africa, central Asia or the Middle East, you’re in an optimal geographical position to view the Blood Moon. Meanwhile, viewers in Europe are reasonably well-positioned to see the lunar eclipse – you’ll likely see a partial Blood Moon – but those located in North Africa won’t be able to watch (other than through webcasts).
A partial lunar eclipse is essentially when a bit of the moon enters the Earth’s umbra (as opposed to the whole of the Earth’s umbra).
You can also watch the lunar eclipse online: The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome will be streaming the cosmic show here.
Blood Moon prophecy
In more sensationalist – and unfounded – news, Doomsayers are hailing the end of the world this coming Friday. In a tenuous interpretation of the Bible, a select group of onlookers are propounding the belief that Friday’s lunar eclipse will bring with it an apocalypse.
Christian preachers John Hagee and Mark Blitz predicted that a tetrad – that’s four lunar eclipses in a row – would hail the end of the world. Although the viability of that claim is starting to wane, given that we’ve seen lunar eclipses previously on 14 April and 8 October 2014 as well as 4 April and 28 September 2015, and we’re still knocking about.