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Clouds and fog could affect sightings of lunar eclipse

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:02 20 January 2019

A lunar eclipse is due to take place on Monday, January 21. Picture: DAVID MURTON/DARSHAM ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

A lunar eclipse is due to take place on Monday, January 21. Picture: DAVID MURTON/DARSHAM ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

DAVID MURTON/DARSHAM ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY

With less than 24 hours until the lunar eclipse, will the skies stay clear enough to see the lunar phenomenom?

The blood moon is set to unfold in the early hours of Monday, January 21, meaning eagle-eyed stargazers will need to set their alarms for the chance to see the early morning spectacular.

Chris Bell, a forecaster at East Anglian-based Weatherquest, said the likelihood of East Anglia being able to see it is “tricky to call”.

He said: “The skies will be clear tonight for most of the region but clouds will be increasing from the north West by the early hours of Monday morning,

“There will be some clear spells but clouds will begin after midnight from the West. As the eclipse will occur looking towards the west, there may be places where the eclipse is not visible.

“Clouds will be coming and going in patchy spells and there could be fog developing in places, which again would restrict the viewing of the blood moon.”

Dan Holley, a meteorologist at Weatherquest, uploaded a GIF showing one model’s idea of how it expects cloud cover to evolve through the night.

He said: “There may also be some fog patches where it looks ‘clear’.”

When and why will we see it?

If the skies stay clear enough, the lunar eclipse should be visible from 3.33am with the earth’s shadow starting to take a bite out of the full moon.

David Murton, from the Darsham Astronomical Society, said: “This bite will slowly increase until 4.41am when totality starts.

“By this time the full moon will have become considerably dimmer, however, unlike a solar eclipse it won’t go completely dark as the earth’s atmosphere will bend some of the sunlight, so that it continues to illuminate the moon.

“However, refraction of the light and dust in our atmosphere will colour this light and the moon can turn a deep coppery red colour.

“Lunar eclipses last considerably longer than solar ones and the period of totality will last until 5.43am giving us an hour of observation.”

After this period, the shadow will retreat and at 6.50am it will all be over.

If you get a sight of the blood moon, make sure to send your snaps to us here.

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