Sunday 27 September 2015

Supermoon lunar eclipse: Where, how and what time can I see it start on Sunday / Monday and when will it end?

Amateur astronomers will be given a rare chance to capture a spectacular celestial event that has not occurred for 30 years tonight- a lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth.
An awe-inspiring blood-red "supermoon" will cast its eerie light on the Earth early on Monday, creating an atmosphere of wonder and fear across the world.
When the moon is at "perigee", its shortest distance from the Earth, it is 226,000 miles away and appears 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.
The last time this coincided with a lunar eclipse, when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, was in 1982 and the event will not be repeated until 2033.
During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a deep rusty red, due to sunlight being scattered by the Earth's atmosphere.
Down through the ages, so-called "blood moons" have been viewed as ill-omens by superstitious people.
For some - religious groups and believers in astrology - the eclipse will be dreadful in the most literal sense, a sign that the End of Days is approaching.
Monday's eclipse is said to be even more significant, since it marks the completion of an unusual line-up of four total eclipses at six monthly intervals known as a "tetrad".

When can I see the lunar eclipse?

From the UK, the moon starts to enter the Earth's shadow at 01:10 early on Monday morning.

How long will the eclipse last?

The moon will be completely within the shadow from 03:11 to 04:24. The eclipse ends when the moon leaves the shadow at 0624.

What will I see?

When the eclipse is at its maximum, the moon will be just above the tree tops.
The phenomenon is well worth staying up for, according to leading amateur astronomer Robin Scagell.
He said: "From a UK point of view, it's happening at a most unsuitable time, but I would say it's definitely worth setting the alarm for to look out and see this red moon hanging over the tree tops."

Why will the moon turn red?

The Earth's atmosphere scatters more blue light, so that the light reaching the lunar surface is predominantly red.
Observers on Earth see a moon that may be brick-coloured, rusty, blood red, or sometimes dark grey depending on the atmospheric conditions.

Is the end nigh?

Joel 2:31 in the Bible says: "The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes."
The blood-red full moon has happened only five times since 1900 and will be the last in a sequence of four in a row occurring at six-monthly intervals on biblical feast days - a so-called "biblical tetrad".
A cross is seen as the moon is illuminated by sunlight reflected off the Earth during a total lunar eclipse, one of four so-called 'blood moons'A cross is seen as the moon is illuminated by sunlight reflected off the Earth during a total lunar eclipse, one of four so-called 'blood moons'  Photo: Getty Images
Throughout history, these incredibly rare events have been associated with major global events and disasters.
The 1493 tetrad was marked by the expulsion of the Jews by the Catholic Spanish Inquisition and in 1949 another tetrad coincided with the establishment of the state of Israel. Furthermore in 1967 the tetrad occured at the same time as the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War.
However, while lunar tetrads can be rare - there were none between 1600 and 1900 - Nasa says the pattern is largely random and there will be eight in the 21st century.

When can I next see a lunar eclipse?

It will be the last total lunar eclipse visible from the UK until 2019.

When did this last happen?

The previous three total lunar eclipses in the tetrad occurred on April 15 2014, October 8 2014, and April 4 2015, but were not visible from the UK. A tetrad cycle like this one hasn't been seen since 1982 and won't begin again until 2032.
The most recent occurrences of the big red moon took place in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964, and 1982.

Thursday 24 September 2015

Who, What, Why: What is an equinox?

Equinox diagram

The equinox is being celebrated around the world - heralding autumn in the northern hemisphere and spring in the south. What is an equinox and how does it work, asks Justin Parkinson.
The name equinox means "equal night" in Latin. It's theoretically the day of the year when all points on the earth's surface experience the same lengths of daylight and darkness - 12 hours of each. The autumn equinox in the northern hemisphere (it's the spring equinox for the southern hemisphere) always falls on 22, 23 or 24 September.
Imagine the earth orbiting the sun in a flat plane - ie as if it was pinned on the edge of a slightly elliptical disc. It spins on its axis as it does so - each turn making a day. But the earth also constantly tilts at an angle of 23.5 degrees to that flat plane as it orbits the sun.
This means, for half the year, the northern hemisphere is pointing slightly away from the sun, bringing shorter, colder days as it moves into winter. For the other half of the year it points slightly towards the sun, getting longer, hotter days, most extreme in high summer.

But the equinoxes (there's one in March, too) are the points of the year where the part of the earth closest to the sun is the equator rather than places north or south of it. Everywhere from the North Pole to the South Pole gets the same number of hours of sunlight, just for those two days a year.
In theory everywhere on earth should get half a day of sun and half a day of darkness when an equinox happens. "But this is complicated by the fact that the earth has an atmosphere," says Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society. "This means when the sun's near the horizon it appears to be slightly higher than it is because the light is refracted through the atmosphere. So, you get slightly longer than the 12 hours of sunlight."
If the earth didn't tilt, every day would be an equinox, as the sun would always be closest to the equator. There would not be winters or summers as we know them, says Massey.

Friday 18 September 2015

Special Offer Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath Save £16 - for a limited time only:

Includes entrance to Windsor Castle and Stonehenge and the Roman Baths. *
  • Be amongst the first people to enter Windsor Castle
  • Entrance to Windsor Castle & Stonehenge
  • Entrance to the Roman baths included (Includes 1-course pub lunch instead of Roman Baths entry in winter between Nov 15 - Mar 16)
  • Entrance to the delightful Georgian Pump Room
  • Panoramic tour of Bath
  • Check Availability - Book/Buy Tickets
The Tour:
Windsor Castle
Over 900 years of royal history are waiting for you in Windsor Castle, which is perched high above the River Thames just outside of London. From William the Conqueror all the way through to our current Queen, successive monarchs have lived here and left their mark on what is now the largest continuously occupied castle in the world. We shall be amongst the first people to enter Windsor Castle, so you can see for yourself the splendor of St. Georges chapel and the sumptuous state apartments. Windsor itself is a pretty town full of traditional shops and historic pubs. Shakespeare is said to have written his play The Merry Wives of Windsor in one of them! 
Our final stop is Bath, another world heritage site. Bath is a beautiful Georgian city with delightful crescents, terraces and architecture. Following our panoramic tour of the city, there will be time to visit Bath Abbey and Pulteney Bridge overlooking the river Avon cascading over the weir. And you can shop, explore or take afternoon tea in the Pump Rooms while listening to the string quartet.

Your ticket includes entrance to the Roman Baths (Includes 1-course lunch instead of Roman Baths betweeen Nov 15 - Mar 16) that were built nearly 2,000 years ago. Built on Britain's only natural hot water spring lies the magnificent Roman public bath complex and Roman temple. At the heart of the World Heritage Site you can walk around the steaming pool on the Roman stone paving and admire the ancient Roman statues and architecture.  
The most famous prehistoric monument in the world, and now a world heritage site, Stonehenge stands alone in the vast empty tract of Salisbury plain. Its origins date back nearly 5,000 years and it has been home to pagan religion and spiritual worship, not to be mention public debate ever since. What was this vast collection of stones intended for? Was it observatory of the moon, a temple to the sun, or an elaborate cemetery? Who were the people who carried and carved these 40 ton rocks? Come and unlock the secrets for yourself and marvel at this remarkable and mysterious feat of ancient engineering and design.

Returns to London at approximately 8:30pm
*Please note: On occasion the State Apartments are closed and as an alternative we shall visit Queens Mary's Doll's House and St Georges Chapel. On Sunday St Georges Chapel is closed, there will be extra time to explore castle precincts.
Tour Code: 01OP
* The tour includes a 1-course lunch instead of entry to Roman Baths in winter between Nov 15 - Mar 16.

Please note that the order of visit may change.
Please note the following closure:
 The State Apartments closure            
17 September 2015
16 October 2015
25 November 2015
4 December 2015
8 December 2015

Stonehenge and Bath Tour with Roman Baths Entry


  • Entry to Roman Baths and the Pump Rooms
  • Entry to Mysterious Stonehenge
  • Optional Lunch
  • Luxury air–conditioned vehicle
  • Free Wi-Fi On Board Our Coaches*
  • Check Availability - Book/ Buy Tickets


Standing proudly on the slopes of the River Avon, beautiful Bath was the first city in England to be designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. The gorgeous 15th century Bath Abbey, the stunning Georgian architecture, the romantic Pulteney Bridge, modelled on Florence's Ponte Vecchio, are all sights to linger on in the memory of your day.

Roman Baths and Pump Rooms 
No tour of Bath would be complete without a visit to the famous Roman Baths that gave the city its name. This beautifully preserved bathing complex still flows with water from Britain’s only hot spring. Marvel at the dazzling torch–lighting ceremony as dusk falls (not applicable in summer) and sip Bath’s healing waters in the Pump Room, a stunning neo–classical salon.

Optional Lunch
You have the option of enjoying a traditional one-course lunch near Bath Abbey.

Click here for the lunch menu

Mysterious Stonehenge
The true meaning of this ancient, awe-inspiring creation has been lost in the mists of time. Was Stonehenge a temple for sun worship, a healing centre, a burial site or perhaps a huge calendar? How did our ancestors manage to carry the mighty stones from so far away and then, using only the most primitive of tools, build this amazing structure? Surrounded by mystery, Stonehenge never fails to impress.

Estimated arrival time back in London is around 7.00pm.

Additional Information

  • Entry to Stonehenge and Roman Baths
  • Transportation by Air-Conditioned Coach
  • Professional Guide
  • Walking Tour of Bath
  • Complimentary hotel pick up from over 80 central London hotels
  • Gratuities
  • Hotel Return
  • Food and beverages unless stated differently
Please note:
  • *During Peak Periods, Additional Vehicles Without Wi-Fi May Be Used