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.