According to the U.K. Royal Astronomical Society, a total lunar eclipse will be visible tonight to skywatchers on five continents if the sky is clear.
The first of two total lunar eclipses this year can be seen from Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. The moon will set in eastern Australia and Asia during the eclipse, while South Americans will only be able to view its later stages. The eclipse won't be visible in North America. People in most of Africa and central Asia will be able to witness the whole event.
"Lunar eclipses are a fascinating and beautiful phenomenon, and no two are quite alike," said the RAS in an e-mailed statement. "They are of no real scientific importance in astronomical research."
The phenomenon, during which the Earth will block the passage of sunlight to the moon as the three celestial bodies line up, begins at 7:48 p.m. London time, the society said. The "totality" phase, when the moon is completely in the Earth's shadow, starts at 8:52 p.m. and ends at 10:08 p.m. The eclipse will be over at 11:12 p.m., reports bloomberg.com
A lunar eclipse only happens when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in alignment, with the Earth casting a shadow onto the moon. Fortunately, this doesn't totally black the moon out. Instead, the Moon looks reddish, reflecting the light refracted by Earth's atmosphere back down to us. The colour of each eclipse varies slightly, depending on the amount of dust in the Earth's atmosphere.
Dr Jacqueline Mitton of RAS said: "If the weather is kind to us, this could be a very interesting sight, with the eclipsed Moon becoming more and more obvious as the sky gradually darkens after sunset and the Moon gets higher in the sky."
The next lunar eclipse visible from the UK is on 28 October 2004, inform theregister.co.uk
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