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Blood moon to bring longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, with Mars to appear unusually bright

Astronomers says lunar event will be 'great opportunity' for photographers

Monday 09 July 2018 17:47 BST
What is the super blue blood moon?

Seen as a sign of impending doom by some, to others it is simply an excellent photo opportunity.

The longest lunar eclipse of the century will take place this month – and it will turn the moon blood red.

By chance, Mars will simultaneously appear brighter than normal as it passes its closest to Earth for 15 years.

“This is great,” Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society told The Times. “It is a really nice and rare opportunity to seen eclipse moon next to Mars in the night sky.

“You’ll have two bright objects of such huge public interest…it’s a great chance for photographers.”

The eclipse will see the light from the Sun blocked by the Earth as it passes in front of the Moon, causing some of the light to bend around the edge of our planet as it passes through the atmosphere.

The moon will turn red, meanwhile – rather than just disappearing into darkness as might be expected – because of an effect known as Rayleigh Scattering, where bands of green and violet light become filtered through the atmosphere.

This month's lunar eclipse, which will last an hour and 43 minutes in total, will take place on July 27.

It is due to last so long because the moon is at one of its furthest points from the Earth, meaning the shadow the world will cast across it is greater than in a usual lunar eclipse.

Lunar eclipses can be observed without any special equipment, unlike solar eclipses - so expect to see some stunning pictures of the phenomenon if you don't get a chance to see it with your own eyes.

It will be viewed best – and for longest – from south east Europe, said Mr Massey. But in south east England, it should still last an hour and 23 minutes beginning at 8.49pm.

“If you’re going to eastern or southern Europe, you’ll get a better view,” he said. “It will be higher in the sky. In America, you won’t see it at all.”

Not everyone is as excited as Mr Massey, however.

Paul Bigley, a US doomsday pastor, has predicted that, because the eclipse will be visible from Jerusalem, it is set to bring the end of the world. On the bright side, England may have won the World Cup by then.

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