A RARE celestial event is set to take over the Capital’s skies tomorrow and beyond when a total lunar eclipse falls on this month’s full moon causing what is known as a “blood moon”.
Friday night will see a total eclipse where the Earth moves between the Sun and the Moon cutting off the Moon’s light supply. As the Moon doesn’t have its own light source, but borrows the Sun’s rays which reflect on its surface, stargazers will be treated to the sight of the Moon bathed in red instead of going completely dark due to a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering.
The Moon will rise on Friday at 9.24pm in the east-south-east and clear skies are predicted.
By the time the Sun sets and the Moon makes its ascent, the eclipse will be in full swing and the full phase of the eclipse will last around one hour and 43 minutes.
From start to finish the astrological phenomenon will last until the early hours of Saturday morning. This lunar eclipse is predicted to be one of the longest recorded in the 21st century. Saturn will be visible just to the left of the Moon.
Mars will also appear brighter than usual, appearing just below the blood moon, while the gas giant Jupiter will also be visible to the naked eye to the south-west.
The nighttime spectacle will be topped off by the presence of the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth.
Unlike its solar counterpart, a total eclipse of the Moon is visible anywhere the Moon happens to be above the horizon at the time of the eclipse.
A total eclipse of the Sun can only be seen from a narrow track along a specific portion of the Earth’s surface, however tomorrow’s eclipse will be challenging because it will be in full swing at moonrise.
Keen-eyed moon-spotters could spy a light blue or turquoise band of light on the Moon’s surface at the beginning and close to the end of the eclipse. This happens because the Earth’s ozone layer scatters red light and lets through some of the blue light that is otherwise filtered out by other layers of the atmosphere.
Down the ages, blood moons have been viewed as ill-omened by superstitious people, but despite some Twitter users proclaiming the end of the world with the coming eclipse, others are excited to see the spectacle.
Members of the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh will be heading to the Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill to capture the sight. It will be another two decades before we will see another lunar eclipse anywhere near as long as tomorrow.
A spokesperson for the Astronomical Society of Edinburgh said: “The lunar eclipse on Friday is different due to our position relative to the alignment of the sun and moon providing the longest period of totality this century. If anyone wants to see as much of the event as they can they should head for high ground.”