The moon will be performing for us tonight. The full moon will also be a supermoon – a non-astrological term, for when the moon appears extra large due to being at its closest point to Earth. It will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.
And more than a supermoon, tonight we have the chance to see a full lunar eclipse, our last chance for a full view of this in the UK until 2029. As the moon heads fully into shadow, we will also be treated to a blood moon, with the moon turning red as a result of limited sunlight reaching it through earth’s atmosphere.
Subject to cloud cover, the full event will be visible in North and South America, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, UK, Portugal and the northern French and Spanish coasts. Other counties will be able to see some of the eclipse, but it will not be seen in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
For anyone wanting to see some of the event, the times for the UK are 02:36 for the start of the penumbral eclipse (entering the outer shades); 03:33 GMT for the start of the partial eclipse (entering the central shadow); the moon will have entered the umbra shadow fully by 04:41 GMT. The best time to see the maximum eclipse and the blood colour is expected to be around 05.12 GMT, with the total eclipse ending at 05:43 GMT, and the partial at 06:50 GMT.
If you’re not sure you have the energy to stay up late, or get up early, maybe this image will change your mind.
On a more serious note, there are some tips on taking photos of the eclipse here and here. Also, the Royal Observatory at Greenwich will be showing the event live on Facebook from 04:00 GMT. However, with local cloud cover now moving in near me, I fear I’ll be relying on looking at other people’s photos of the event tomorrow.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 20 January 2019