A rare celestial phenomenon will occur this weekend on 27th September that should capture the imagination of stargazers around the world.
A super moon eclipse will take place in the US between the hours of 9pm and 12.30am, and in the early hours of the UK from 1am to 4.30am.
Although lunar eclipses are quite common, this rare event of a super moon eclipse has not happened for some 30 years.
What is a lunar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth falls in-between the sun and moon, and this causes its shadow to fall directly onto the Moon.
What is a Super Moon?
When the moon is closest to the Earth, called ‘at perigee’, it appears to be 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal. This is because it is only 226,000 miles away from the Earth, the shortest distance it will ever be.
Why does the Moon look blood red?
Although the moon is in the Earth’s shadow, Earth casts off a lot of light which then reflects onto the moon. This light is also predominately blue which means the light that ends up reaching the moon is mostly red.
This is what gives it the blood moon name.
The last time a super moon coincided with a lunar eclipse was back in 1982 and we will not see another one until 2033.
Who and when can we see the lunar eclipse?
Most of North and South America will get a great view of the super moon eclipse, as well as Canada and Western Europe.
The Americas will still have the super moon high in the night’s sky at around 9pm so they can enjoy the eclipse before they go to bed.
Western Europeans however will have to stay up until the small hours as they won’t get to see the eclipse until around 3am.
How long will the eclipse last?
From the start to the end of eclipse lasts around 5 hours with the actual eclipse occurring for a good hour.
Why should I bother staying up for the super moon eclipse?
Leading amateur astronomer Robin Scagell says the eclipse is worth getting up for:
He said: “From a UK point of view, it’s happening at a most unsuitable time, but I would say it’s definitely worth setting the alarm for to look out and see this red moon hanging over the tree tops.”
And unlike solar eclipses, you can actually look directly at lunar ones and take pictures without harming your eyes.
The best places to view the super moon eclipse
If the skies are clear on the night then anywhere there is no light pollution is ideal. So stay away from cities and large towns and get yourself out into the countryside.
Once you are in a suitable location then you can view with binoculars or a telescope or the naked eye. If viewing from your backyard make sure you turn off all the lights in your house.
Many people think that you should use a long exposure when photographing the lunar eclipse but this is not true. The planets and satellites move much faster in space than you would imagine, so using a long exposure will only produce blurred images.
Use a tripod to steady the camera and then setting the exposures use a slow shutter speed but not too slow, say around 1/15th or 1/8th of a second.
For amateur photographers, stay away from other light sources such as street lighting or kitchen lights, and try have something in the foreground to show perspective, such as a tree, building or statue.
Finally, don’t be precious, take loads of pictures and play around with settings and exposures.