In the early hours of Sunday there’s a total lunar eclipse. Here’s our guide to what it’s all about
So what exactly is going to happen?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes within Earth’s (shadow). As the eclipse begins, the Earth’s shadow first darkens the Moon slightly, then ‘covers’ part of it.
Why is this one special?
Because it’s a ‘super blood moon’ eclipse – it creates the illusion that the moon is larger. It’s the first since 1982 and there won’t be another until 2033.
It presents the fourth and final eclipse of a ‘lunar tetrad’ – four straight total eclipses of the moon, spaced at six lunar months (full moons) apart.
What will it look like?
The eclipse turns the moon it a dark red-brown color. The Moon appears to be reddish because of Rayleigh scattering (the same effect that causes sunsets to appear reddish) and the refraction of that light by the Earth’s atmosphere into its umbra
When can I see it?
The whole eclipse takes around five hours, starting at 1am. By 2.45am, the moon will be half-eclipsed, with the full eclipse starting just after 3am with maximum eclipse at 3.47am.
If you look through binoculars, they will emphasise whatever colours and hues there are on the Moon. If the eclipse is a ‘dark eclipse’ it will look a dark muddy red-brown to the naked eye, possibly quite hard to spot in the sky.
If it is a light eclipse, it will be more of a pinky-blue colour, and easy to see. Inbetween, there are shades of orange, and red, and pink, with hints of blue, or gold, or even purple.
And if I don’t want to get up in the middle of the night?
The eclipse will continue to pass across the moon until clearing at 6.20am, so early-risers might get a peak.
* If you take pictures of the lunar eclipse, we want to see them. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org