Full lunar eclipse 2018: How to watch the total lunar eclipse

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Partial lunar eclipses occur every 2.5 months on average

A full-sized lunar eclipse will be visible across Europe on Sunday, with some people going to see it live for the first time in years.

BBC Breakfast will broadcast a live preview from Delphi and Vilnius in Lithuania on Sunday morning.

It will be the longest partial lunar eclipse visible in Britain for around 600 years.

Weather permitting, you can watch the eclipse beginning at 09:15 BST and ending at 16:05 BST.

The eclipse starts late at night and lasts well into the morning with people in northern areas seeing the sky remain dark longer than elsewhere.

But skies will turn much lighter in the evening when the moon rises.

Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon during a full or new lunar phase.

How long will it last?

As the earth acts as a planet blocking sunlight from reaching the moon during solar eclipses, the moon never seems to go out of eclipse mode.

Lunar eclipses are usually visible from the middle of the United States, although at the most they last only about 90 minutes and can easily be missed due to spotty light sources.

The UK does not have a direct connection with the solar eclipse on 21 August this year, which is unusual for the country.

The last full lunar eclipse visible from this country was in 2017 and was visible from northern Britain.

How long will the eclipse last?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The eclipse starts late at night and lasts well into the morning with people in northern areas seeing the sky remain dark longer than elsewhere

The eclipse will begin at 20:24 BST and last until 20:32 BST, however the moon will be up in the north at 01:46 BST and from 19:53 BST further south in the south-west and from 17:54 BST in central Ireland.

Why has a full lunar eclipse happened?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption This eagled-eyed blogger can spot the moon forming in the centre of the Earth’s shadow.

This time the moon is at the beginning of its “new phase” – an embryonic stage – meaning it will have just entered the Earth’s shadow.

When the moon enters the Earth’s shadow, a conjunction happens when two things happen simultaneously.

For an eclipse to be visible, both moon and Earth must be at their furthest distance from the Earth, so that the sun, the Earth and the moon appear slightly different sizes in the sky.

In addition, the moon in its new phase also becomes rusty with rosy rosy colours because of the Earth’s influence on its surface.

Have any full lunar eclipses been visible from the UK in the past?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A partial lunar eclipse was visible across Europe, Asia and Australia in 2011

The last total lunar eclipse visible from Europe was in February 2011, with London’s Canary Wharf built-up pub district – just yards from the banks of the Thames – the most popular location for sky watchers at the time.

Two years later, a partial lunar eclipse in January 2013 was one of the strongest overnight viewing opportunities since a similar sight in the former Soviet Union the previous year.

Where else will be able to see it?

Other places in Europe will see a partial eclipse, including Paris and Moscow, although the distance between the moon and the Earth will be shorter.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Partial lunar eclipses occur every 2.5 months on average

More of the moon is set to be visible in the western US from southern and central states such as Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska.

Hawaii and Alaska are already into the deep twilight, but the moon will be on the eastern horizon in these parts.

In Latin America the moon will be well above the horizon and into the US east coast.

What is happening?

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon has also passed through the shadow of the Earth.

This time, however, the moon is in a relatively new phase which is why the time of total eclipse is less prolonged.

Lunar eclipses occur just twice every year, according to The Virtual Telescope Project.

Only once is the moon visible for a lengthy amount of time.

It’s the last total lunar eclipse to take place until 23 August 2021, with only three more partial lunar eclipses scheduled between then and 24 February 2024.

In the other two centuries, only partial eclipses were visible from Earth’s own neighbourhood – although in the year 380, two total eclipses were visible, and one partial eclipse in the year 473, and three partial eclipses in the year 555.

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