Get ready for some lunar loveliness when the blood moon comes to town.
Ready for a celestial celebration? This Friday, London is set to witness a rare astrological event: a total lunar eclipse, which will result in a ‘blood moon’. Sounds pretty gruesome, but the science behind it is pretty fascinating, and the blood moon itself should be a rather pretty sight.
So, time for a science lesson (yayyyyy)! On Friday night, the moon will pass through the Earth’s innermost shadow – putting Earth directly betwixt the moon and the sun. The result is known as a total lunar eclipse, as in the whole of the moon is hidden in shadow. As for why it turns red, that’s because some of the sun’s light will be reflected off of the Earth, splitting this light along the colour spectrum. As the red ends of this spectrum have a better chance of reaching the moon, it’ll take on a reddish orange hue: hence the term ‘blood moon’. Which is a lot of science, but the results will hopefully be worth the lesson.
This is the longest total lunar eclipse of the century, and it’s also the best blood moon on the cards until roughly 2123. So don’t sleep through it! People from Australia to Africa will be able to see it (no luck if you’re in the US, unfortunately), and the main phase will last 1 hour and 43 minutes. Here in the UK, the show starts at 8:49pm, and runs until 11:32pm – the best time to see it is 9:20pm, but you’ll have to hope for clear skies. It’s best seen from an area of low light pollution, so if you can escape to the country for the night, you should be in luck.
You don’t need to fret about going blind either, since it’s not the same as a solar eclipse. Oh, and as an added bonus, Mars is making its closest pass of Earth for 15 years at the same time, and the two will appear in the sky together. Talk about an all-star lineup…
Head to one of London’s numerous parks for a better view!
Featured image: @mr_integrity19