Watch a Lunar Eclipse next week

One for your calendars – as next week will be host to the only total lunar eclipse of the year, and there wont be another total eclipse until 2010. The moon turns a bloody red as it passes into the shadow of the earth, in a display which used to strike terror into Christians in the middle ages as they thought the time of redemption had arrived.

I watched the last full lunar eclipse, which was last year and occurred at the very convenient time of late evening. Alas, this years spectacle will be at about 3am

There are on average two lunar eclipses each year – so 2008 is unusual in only having the one eclipse – and that it is a total eclipse, not partial.

The next total eclipse wont be until December 2010, so wrap up warm and and have a look outside next Wednesday night/Thurs Morning.

It begins at 0035 GMT when the Moon enters the lightest part of the Earth’s shadow, the penumbra. Soon after the Moon will have a slight yellowish hue. At 0142 GMT the Moon starts to enter the dark core of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra. At 0301 GMT the Moon will be completely within the umbra – the ‘total’ part of the eclipse has begun. This is the time when it should have an obvious red colour. Mid-eclipse is at 0326 GMT and the total phase ends at 0352 GMT. At 0509 GMT the Moon leaves the umbra and the eclipse ends when the Moon leaves the penumbra at 0617 GMT.

Links:

Press release from Royal Astronomical Society

List of Lunar Eclipse dates

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