Lunar eclipses: This is where and when you can watch them

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The total eclipse began about 14.30 BST The next total lunar eclipse will not occur until 2022, but what we can look forward to are two short ones…

Lunar eclipses: This is where and when you can watch them

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The total eclipse began about 14.30 BST

The next total lunar eclipse will not occur until 2022, but what we can look forward to are two short ones later this year.

As the moon moves into its “new” phase this month, “blood moon” viewers can watch the moon dive into Earth’s shadow in three separate events.

In the west, the partial eclipse will begin around 16.00 BST. The total eclipse will then begin around 20.00 BST.

In the east, you can see the whole thing – a total eclipse of the moon – from 17.30 BST.

A partial eclipse is better than no eclipse, but it’s hardly exciting.

We’re used to seeing eclipses from high places, not from home.

If you’ve never watched an eclipse from the comfort of your lounge, just check out the footage captured this month by astronomer Rick Mire, of British American Tobacco .

Image copyright Rick Mire Image caption Astronomers say lunar eclipses are among the most spectacular sights in the night sky

Partial eclipses are a bit like raindrops on a field, serving as proof that clouds haven’t closed in.

In the UK, these events don’t mean anything that much. On a clear, moonless night, there are plenty of places in the country that can still see the full moon during its “new” phase, in the early hours of the morning.

The majority of us need to travel abroad in order to watch a total eclipse.

Image copyright Slooh Image caption Most of us need to travel abroad in order to view a total eclipse, but if we have a clear night, there are plenty of UK locations that can still see the moon during its “new” phase

You can use SkySafari 5 to adjust the time stamp on Moon videos.

If the weather is clear, the best places to witness these eclipses are in the eastern hemisphere of the Earth, where the two latitudes match up perfectly.

Image copyright Shutterstock Image caption Total lunar eclipses occur only when the moon and sun line up

Totality – when the moon passes completely into the Earth’s shadow – starts around the eastern horizon about one-third of the way up from the horizon down.

Most observers who hope to watch totality will need to get up early.

Image copyright Jim Ahlstrom Image caption Total lunar eclipses can last for up to three hours, a length of time unheard of from any other astronomical event

But if the sky is clouded out or if the horizon is too shady to see over, you can still keep watching, thanks to the solar system’s “totality sunspot” system .

Image copyright Matt Beedel Image caption The only reason you don’t catch a total lunar eclipse is because the sun and the moon line up perfectly

Visible “shadow” from the earth is caused by sunspots, and if these are thick enough, they burn away as the moon passes into them.

Images courtesy of Queen Mary University of London, UK.

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