There will be a TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE tomorrow morning, visible across Cumbria and the whole of the UK (and other parts of the world too, of course). Here are the details if you want to watch it from Cumbria – please note, if you’re a reader from elsewhere in the UK, your times of “moonset” will differ slightly.
* The Moon will start to darken SLIGHTLY at 05.28 when it enters the PENUMBRA, the outer part of Earth’s shadow. This darkening isn’t usually that noticeable, but given a clear, frosty sky it might be this time, especially through binoculars. At this point the Moon will just start to look a little greyish…
* The Moon will enter the UMBRA, the darker, denser part of Earth’s shadow, at 06.32. The Moon will then start to darken ‘properly’ from the left, with the Earth’s shadow moving across the disc from roughly the 10 o’clock position.
* The Moon will be half-eclipsed by 07.10.
* The Moon will be TOTALLY ECLIPSED at 07.40.
* The eclipse will be at its deepest at 08.16, when the Moon is in the centre of Earth’s shadow. At this point it will probably be a dark orangey-red colour, but may look more of a purple colour due to its low height – we’ll be seeing it through a lot of haze and murk close to the horizon.
* From Kendal, the Moon will SET at 08.40, while it is still fully eclipsed. If you live north or south of Kendal, your Moonset time will differ slightly.
* The total phase of the eclipse will end at 08.54, quarter of an hour after the Moon has set for us.
+ The whole eclipse will take place while the Moon is low in the west for us, so if you want to see it properly you’ll either have to get somewhere high or find somewhere with a flat, uncluttered western horizon.
+ Because the Moon will set fully eclipsed that means we have an excellent chance to get some beautiful photos with objects/buildings in the foreground. Have a think beforehand about the pictures you might be able to take, and give it a go, you’re bound to get something good!
+ YOU DON’T NEED A TELESCOPE TO SEE THIS ECLIPSE! You can watch the eclipse with just your naked eye! Having said that, a pair of binoculars will really bring it to life – they’ll enhance the colours, especially at maximum eclipse, and allow you to watch the Earth’s shadow slowly creeping towards and then covering familiar lunar craters and seas, etc. And an eclipsed Moon always looked eerily three-dimensional through binoculars.
+ Because the Earth’s atmosphere is very ‘clean’ at the moment, without much volcanic dust or gunk swirling about in it, it will allow a lot of ‘Earthlight’ onto the Moon, so there’s a good chance the Moon will be quite bright orange-red rather than a dark muddy brown during the total phase of the eclipse. Even better for photos! But, as I already mentioned, because the eclipsed Moon will be low in the sky its colour will be reddened by the thicker atmosphere there, so it might look more purple than red. We’ll have to wait and see!
+ … having said that, the fact that the sky will be getting brighter through the eclipse, as dawn approaches, will mean that the fully eclipsed Moon will probably look quite dim, too. In fact, the lower it gets, the brighter the sky will get, so we’ll be up against it in two ways! All we can do is go out and watch, and enjoy whatever Nature gives us! 🙂 (thanks Dan!)
So, in summary, you need to be somewhere suitable by 06.15 to catch the beginning of the eclipse. You won’t need a telescope, but binoculars will help a lot and make the eclipse much more enjoyable. The Moon will set at 08.40, still fully eclipsed, but hard to see because of the brightening sky. Inbetween those times you’ll be able to get lots of pictures and see a beautiful orange-red Moon low in the west. But remember to wrap up warm, it’ll be perishingly cold!!
I’ll be up at the Castle if anyone wants to join me there!
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