The moon will rise in Earth‘s shadow this evening in a rare lunar eclipse that could turn our natural satellite a deep shade of red.
With clear skies, the celestial spectacle will be visible across the UK, with the exception of northern Scotland, as soon as the moon rises after sunset.
Moonrise time varies with location, but for observers in London, the show will begin at 9.13pm. Further north, in Glasgow, moonrise begins at 9.58pm.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon, Earth and sun line up, and our home planet casts a vast shadow that engulfs the moon.
When the moon moves into the darkest part of the Earth‘s shadow, the umbra, it will turn a slate grey or brick red colour.
The moon changes colour because blue light – and other short wavelengths – scatter more in the Earth‘s atmosphere, with more red light getting through.
The Royal Astronomical Society said the eclipse, if visible, could be a spectacular opportunity for photographers. The moon will remain low in the night sky, so observers will need a clear horizon and cloudless skies to see it well. Unlike solar eclipses, a lunar eclipse is safe to watch with the naked eye.
The event will be visible in Australasia, southern Japan, a large area of Asia, India, Africa, Europe and the eastern part of South America.
The total eclipse ends at 22.03pm, when the Moon starts to leave the darkest part of the umbra. At this time, the moon will be only five degrees above the south-eastern horizon from London, whilst in Glasgow the whole of the lunar disk will not yet have appeared and from northern Scotland it will not be visible at all.
In the final stage of the eclipse, the moon moves into the lighter part of Earth‘s shadow, the penumbra, and will likely take on a yellowish hue. The eclipse will be over just after midnight, at 00.02am Thursday morning.