Planning to see the blood moon tonight? This evening, the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century will dominate the sky, casting a deep red glow over Earth for one hour and 43 minutes – and promising stunning views.
Weather permitting, this spectacular sight will be visible from almost all parts of the planet, bar North America and Greenland.
So what time can you expect to see the blood moon – and how can you get the best view? And if you’re planning to photograph this mysterious, rare event, is there anything you need to know? Read on for top tips on how to view and capture tonight's blood moon like a pro.
What is a blood moon?
A ‘blood moon’ is the name given to the moon during a lunar eclipse. As the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, the moon is cast into shadow. But instead of turning black, a deep red colour is created by sunlight being refracted though the Earth’s atmosphere: red wavelengths are bent into the space behind Earth, while blue and violent wavelengths are scattered.
Atmospheric conditions dictate the exact colour of the moon – the clearer the atmosphere, the brighter the red colour will appear.
The good news is that unlike a total solar eclipse, a blood moon isn’t dangerous to look at. You don’t need to wear protective glasses – so pull up a pew tonight and watch the haunting celestial sight unfold in front of your eyes.
When is the blood moon 2018?
The total lunar eclipse will occur on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 July 2018. In the UK, the second, partial phase will already be visible as the moon rises at 8:49pm – but as it comes above the horizon it’ll be blood red, making for some incredible sights.
The UK's total eclipse will occur at 9:21pm, and the moon will remain blood red until 10:13pm. UK viewers will then see a partially eclipsed moon until 11:19, with the full moon gradually returning to normal brightness as it leaves the Earth’s shadow.
In India, the total eclipse will begin at 1am IST, finishing at 2:43am.
In Australia, the moon will start to turn red at 4:30am AEST on Saturday morning. The total eclipse will occur between 5:30 and 6:30am, before the moon sets at 6:55am. Blood moon observers will need to look west-south-west.
And in east Africa, the partial eclipse will begin at 9:30pm EAT. The moon will become red between 10:30pm and 12:13am.
The USA, Canada and Greenland will miss out entirely.
Where’s the best place to see the blood moon?
The best views will be from east Africa, the Middle East, India and the western tip of China. But if you’re in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia or the eastern tip of South America, you can still expect decent views.
The best place to see it will be in the countryside, away from any light pollution. This handy eclipse tracker can help you find the optimum place to see the blood moon based on your location.
3 pro tips for photographing the blood moon 2018
According to our friends over at Digital Camera World, composition opportunities in the UK should be rife with tonight's lunar eclipse. Usually a blood moon is photographed high in the sky, so it’s rare to be able to capture it within a landscape. And with the moon’s brightness suppressed, it should be easy to take a good shot.
Here are three pro tips for photographing tonight's lunar eclipse…
01. Find a clear eastern horizon
To maximise your chances of seeing a blood moon, you’ll need a clear eastern horizon, says Digital Camera World. Try apps like PhotoPills and The Photographer's Ephemeris to plan your shot. Look for buildings or trees that the moon could rise between, or seek out a pond or lake for reflections.
02. Get the right kit
03. Nail your shutter speed
Your biggest challenge will be avoiding a blurry image – so use a high shutter speed to achieve adequate sharpness. Don’t use use a shutter speed slower than 1/100sec, and keep sensitivity within ISO 200 to 800.
Download three stunning blood moon images
Need some stunning blood moon images in your library? If your own photos don't quite cut it tonight, we've found three beautiful blood moon images you can download now for your designs.