August 14, 2022

The Moon is set to look pretty sexy this weekend

A rare combination of two lunar events will create a ‘super blood flower Moon’ at the end of this weekend – and we could enjoy some pretty spectacular views of it.

A total lunar eclipse and super-Moon will combine to make the ‘super blood Moon’ in the early hours of Monday morning. The full May Moon is sometimes referred to as the ‘flower Moon’. So, you can even call this the ‘super blood flower Moon’ if you wish.

But what even is a ‘total lunar eclipse’?

Well, according to NASA, a lunar eclipse (often called a blood Moon because of its red colour) occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon align, so that the Moon is in the Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. So, a total lunar eclipse is when the Moon falls into the darkest part of the Earth’s umbra – aka its dark, inner shadow.

This weekend will be a total lunar eclipse and up to 99.1 per cent of the Moon will be in the Earth’s shadow.

And although no sunlight will be falling directly onto the moon, light from the sunrises and sunsets all around the Earth will still illuminate it, giving it its ‘blood’ red appearance.

What’s more, the moon will be near its closest point to the Earth and therefore look larger in the sky – a phenomenon known as a super-Moon. Hence, the formation of the ‘super blood Moon’.

Seven different photographs of a supermoon which coincided with a lunar eclipse, taken in Glastonbury 2015 (Credit: Getty)

The total lunar eclipse will happen in several stages throughout the early hours of Monday morning. It will be one of the longest of the decade and the first in the UK since January 2019 – so while you might be a bit tired later on in the day, this is an event you may not want to miss.

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The first stage of the total lunar eclipse – the penumbral phrase – will begin in the UK just after 2.30am. Although most of the sun’s light will be blocked at this point, some rays can still reach the Moon, creating a subtle darkening effect. While it sounds cool, this part can easily go unnoticed, so maybe don’t worry too much about waking up at this time.

It’s when we get to the second stage – the umbral eclipse – that things really get exciting.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 26: A surfer rides a wave as a super blood moon rises above the horizon at Manly Beach on May 26, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. It is the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years, which coincides with a supermoon. A super moon is a name given to a full (or new) moon that occurs when the moon is in perigee - or closest to the earth - and it is the moon's proximity to earth that results in its brighter and bigger appearance. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) A surfer rides a wave as a super blood moon rises above the horizon at Manly Beach in Sydney on May 26, 2021 (Getty)

We’ll be able to see the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow passing across the Moon’s surface. This starts just before 3.30am and ends just before 4.30am – when the Moon will become fully eclipsed. The Earth’s atmosphere will bend some of the sun’s light towards it and bathe the Moon in shades of deep red. Yum.

The Moon will set pretty soon after this in the UK but the eclipse will continue until 07:50am BST.

SURABAYA, INDONESIA - MAY 26: In this composite image the moon is seen as it emerges from a total lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021 in Surabaya, Indonesia. The moon will pass through Earth's shadow during this Super Blood Moon. Red light passes through the Earth's atmosphere while blue light is filtered out, causing the moon to appear red. The moon will also reach perigee or the closest point to Earth in its current orbit, making it appear larger to the eye than a regular full moon. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images) A composite image of a Super Blood Moon emerging from a total lunar eclipse on May 26, 2021 in Surabaya, Indonesia (Credit: Getty)

The Royal Observatory has said that the optimal viewing time in London will be between 4.29am and 5.06am – when the Moon will be entirely in the Earth’s full shadow and appear red.

Sadly, we won’t get as good a look as those watching from Central and southern America and the eastern regions of North America, who will be able to watch the whole thing. Then again, Australia won’t get to see any of it so really we should thank our lucky stars.

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