Lunar eclipse - all you need to know

Everything you need to know about the Lunar eclipse Picture: DAVID MURTON/ DARSHAM ASTRONOMICAL SOCI

Everything you need to know about the Lunar eclipse Picture: DAVID MURTON/ DARSHAM ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY - Credit: Archant

A spectacular scene is set to unfold in the sky tonight with the first total lunar eclipse for several years.

This evening people in the east will be able to witness a lunar eclipse.

The moon will be in totality, completely eclipsed, at around 8.50pm and will stay that way until approximately 10.13pm.

After that it will slowly brighten as the Earth’s shadow will move across its face until around 11.20pm then it will all be over.

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David Murton, from the Darsham Astronomical Society, said: “Unlike a solar eclipse, some light from the sun will still get to the moon, refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere.

“This will have the effect of turning the moon a blood red, although the actual colour will depend on the amount of dust and smoke present in our atmosphere at the time.

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“You will need a good low eastern horizon to see the moon rising though and as it will be much dimmer than usual, you will need to look hard to see it. Somewhere on the east coast would be ideal.”

You will also be able to catch a glimpse of planet Mars at 9.33pm that evening as it rises in the east just after the moon.

Mr Murton added: “You may well have unknowingly seen the red planet over the past few weeks as a really bright pink spot in the southern sky.

“It has been getting progressively brighter as our respective orbits around the sun bring us closer together, until on 27th July it will get to it’s closest to us since 2003 and it will be the brightest thing in the night sky after the moon and Venus.”

A third incredible sighting will accompany the lunar eclipse and planet Mars however you will need to look West.

The international space station will make two bright passes across the sky starting at approximately 9.34pm and 11.11pm.

If you haven’t seen this before it will appear as a very bright white light traversing the sky at the same speed as an airliner (a plane).

Both passes will last around five minutes, it will come across the sky from the west and suddenly disappear towards the east as it looses the sunlight that illuminates it.

Please note in order to be able to see this triple extravaganza well it will need to be a clear evening.

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