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The super blood wolf moon: Watch out for tonight's spectacular lunar eclipse


By Paul Brackley


Look out for the super blood wolf moon in the early hours of Monday.

Full lunar eclipse taken from Western Europe on September 28, 2015. A lunar eclipse (also known as a blood moon) occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned and the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). (6625461)
Full lunar eclipse taken from Western Europe on September 28, 2015. A lunar eclipse (also known as a blood moon) occurs when the sun, Earth and moon are aligned and the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). (6625461)

A total lunar eclipse will turn the moon into a ‘blood moon’, with a reddish appearance.

But this coincides with a ‘supermoon’ - when the appears slightly bigger and brighter than usual because it is closer to Earth than average.

The full moon is sometimes known as the wolf moon in January, giving rise to the name ‘super blood wolf moon’.

But you’ll have to stay up late, or rise early, to catch it - and hope for clear skies of course.

Composition illustrating the progression of the shadow of the earth on the moon during the lunar eclipse of 2015. (6625463)
Composition illustrating the progression of the shadow of the earth on the moon during the lunar eclipse of 2015. (6625463)

The phenomenon will start at 2.36am but it will be a while before you can appreciate it.

The moon will be red between about 4.40am and 6.45am, with the maximum eclipse due at 5.12am. At this time, the moon will fall entirely in Earth’s shadow.

The reddish colour occurs because the only light being reflected by the moon’s surface has been refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere. The scattering of bluer light from the Sun appears reddish in the same way a sunset or sunrise does.

The forecast for Cambridgeshire is for partial cloud, meaning observers in some parts of the county may have a better view than others.

A lunar eclipse (6625459)
A lunar eclipse (6625459)

Astronomers are hoping for a better view than our last lunar eclipse though - a blood moon in July 2018 was almost largely ruined by cloud in the UK.

We won't have another lunar eclipse as spectacular as this in the UK until May 2021.



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