There will be a blood moon visible in the UK this weekend. On Friday night, the full moon will rise and be a deep red colour, thanks to what astronomers call a total lunar eclipse, and what religious folk probably think is a sign from whatever God they believe in, indicating that Chris Froome should let Geraint Thomas win le Tour if it looks like he’s going to.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the moon has gone from its regular milky off-white to another colour, but this weekends blood moon promises to be a particularly spectacular one. Assuming clouds play ball and keep out of the way, the blood moon should rise from the East at around 9.20pm UK time, and last well into the early hours of Saturday morning. In fact, this should be the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.
Now, a combination of the seemingly endless heatwave, a blood moon, a forecast for massive thunderstorms, and the ending of Love Island all on the same day may seem like all four of the Horsemen of The Apocalypse have arrived at once. And, in fairness, with the ongoing popularity of Piers Morgan, we have kind of been asking for it. However, most of these are naturally occurring phenomenons and, the blood moon at least, is one we can explain.
What is A Blood Moon
A blood moon is when the moon appears to have a deep, orange/red glow. This happens during a total lunar eclipse, which is when the Earth’s trajectory travels between the sun and the moon. Blocking the light from the sun doesn’t turn the moon dark as you’d maybe expect, but turns it a blood red colour.
This is because some of the light from the sun still manages to illuminate the moon, but the red and orange colour wavelengths are less scattered than the blue and violet ones. This is why we get a blood moon.
Where Can I See The Blood Moon
Weather permitting, the total lunar eclipse should be visible anywhere it’s dark outside while it is occurring. If you’re in the UK on Friday evening, the moon is due to rise at 9.21pm, reaching peak blood around about 11.19pm. With thunderstorms forecast for the North of Britain, your best chance of seeing the blood moon is almost certainly in the South.
The total lunar eclipse will be at its peak over Central Asia, South East Africa, and The Middle East, so countries like Kazakhstan, South Africa, India, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan should get an exceptional celestial showing between around 11pm and midnight local time.
Much of Western Europe should get a good sighting from around 8.20pm (9.20pm local time).
Heading further West, in Rio de Janeiro, astronomers, amateur and professionals alike, should get a glimpse of the total lunar eclipse at around 5.27pm local time, before the blood drains from the moon (or, you know, there’s enough celestial activity to make it appear that way).
How To Watch The Blood Moon
Unlike a solar eclipse, where the moon passes between Earth and the sun, it’s perfectly safe to look directly at a blood moon. This is because you won’t be staring directly into sunlight.
The best place to see the blood moon is in darkness, and under a clear sky. The clear sky part can be tricky - there’s not a lot you can do if the clouds aren’t playing ball. However, if you’re in a city or large built-up urban area, you should head out to the countryside to escape the light pollution. The more ambient light around, the less you’ll be able to see the blood moon.
If you are in an area where you can’t see the blood moon in full effect, the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is planning on live streaming pictures of the total lunar eclipse, so you should be able to see the blood moon from the warmth and comfort of your sofa, should you be that way inclined.