A total lunar eclipse will occur this weekend, as people across the world will be able to see the Moon in the Earth’s shadow.
The lunar eclipse will be visible over South America, North America, and parts of Europe and Africa. In the UK, we will be able to see the Moon turn red during the eclipse.
The last total lunar eclipse in the UK–which also happened during the first full moon of the year–took place in January 2019, meaning that total lunar eclipses don’t occur very regularly.
Therefore, anyone interested in space or astronomy should make the most of the opportunity to see the eclipse this weekend.
Find out everything you need to know about the lunar eclipse below
What is a lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lies directly between the Sun and the Moon, with the Moon in the Earth’s shadow. The Moon will pass through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, which is called the umbra.
A total lunar eclipse can only happen when the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon are in a straight line.
When a lunar eclipse occurs, the Moon will turn a dark red colour. This happens because “it is illuminated by light that has passed through the Earth’s atmosphere and has been bent back towards the Moon by refraction,” according to the Royal Observatory.
A lunar eclipse is often called a “Blood Moon” because of the red colour it appears to be. The colour that the Moon will appear to be will depend on the global state of dust in the atmosphere.
A total lunar eclipse happens at least twice every three years.
What is the difference between a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow.
A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves directly between the Sun and the Earth, so that the Earth is in the shadow of the moon.
How to watch the lunar eclipse in May 2022
The lunar eclipse will happen this weekend, overnight on 15-16 May.
In the UK, the Moon will begin to enter the Earth’s shadow just after 2.30am. The full eclipse will happen just before 4.30am.
We will be able to see the eclipse from around 2.30am until 5.10am, when the Moon will set below the horizon.
In London, the Royal Observatory says that the optimal viewing time will be between 4.29am and 5.06am when the Moon will be entirely in the Earth’s full shadow and will appear red.
If you’re not able to see the lunar eclipse in person, or if your view is blocked by clouds, you’ll be able to watch the eclipse on live streams.
NASA will be livestreaming the lunar eclipse on YouTube, beginning at 2.30am UK-time, while the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will also be hosting a livestream on YouTube.
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