The first total lunar eclipse in a year will take place on Monday (May 16) – and as part of it sky-watchers will see the Moon turn red. Although London is not famed for it’s star-gazing spots, there are some areas of the capital that are perfect for watching the night sky if it’s clear.
An eclipse of the Moon occurs when the Earth lies directly between the Sun and the Moon and the Moon lies in the shadow of the Earth. During a total eclipse, the Moon does not disappear entirely but turns a deep, dark red.
Tonight, in the UK, the Moon will begin to enter the Earth’s shadow just after 2.30am. The full eclipse will happen just before 4.30am so will be able to see the eclipse from around 2.30am until 5.10am, when the Moon will set below the horizon.
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In London, the Royal Observatory says that the optimal viewing time will be between 4.29am and 5.06am when the Moon will be entirely in the Earth’s full shadow and will appear red. Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is safe to view with the naked eye because it only reflects sunlight so they don’t get any brighter than a full Moon.
To get the best view you’ll need to be on the night side of Earth when one occurs, and you’ll need a clear sky that’s free of clouds. No specialist equipment is needed but it’s best to minimise the light in your vicinity and, ideally, watch from a spot where your line of sight won’t be obstructed by tall buildings or trees.
There are a couple of spots idea for catching a glimpse of the Moon it’s glory tonight; topping the list is Primrose Hill, in North West London, offering stunning views of the skyline with the Moon sitting atop. Highgate Hill, in North-East London, and both Greenwich Park and Crystal Palace’s Westow Hill, in South East London, are also high points that will give you the best chance of enjoying the spectacle.
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