It's no secret that my kids are science mad, and so this week's once-in-a-century lunar eclipse event has got us very excited. On Friday 27th July 2018 as well as being the longest lunar eclipse of the century it's also a blood moon, so it will appear red in the night sky. Luckily it's not really late at night either, as totality begins at around 8.30pm in the UK, peaking at 9.21pm, so lots of children should be able to stay up and watch the amazing phenomenon.
Here's everything you need to know about the blood moon lunar eclipse:
What is a blood moon?
During this lunar eclipse the moon will take on a red sheen in an effect known as the 'blood moon'. It happens as the moon passes into the shadow of the earth, blocking the light from the sun, but the Earth's atmosphere bends the sunlight causing it to turn a deep red colour rather than black as you might expect.
Why is this lunar eclipse so special?
Friday's lunar eclipse will be the longest in the 21st century, as it will last 103 minutes, making this a once in a century event.
When and where can we watch the lunar eclipse?
The eclipse will be visible in the UK and parts of northern Europe on the evening of Friday 27th July 2018. In the UK and Ireland the start will not be visible as the moon will be behind the horizon. Moonrise will be at 8.49pm in London, 9.46pm in Glasgow, 9.02pm in Cardiff and 9.27pm in Belfast, with mid-eclipse occurring at 9.21pm and the “total” phase ending at around 10.13pm. The best place to watch is an open space or hill top away from tall buildings and lots of street lights.
What will the weather be like?
Unfortunately the lunar eclipse coincides with the start of heavy thunderstorms across large parts of the UK as the heatwave starts to break, so some will not have the clear skies to be able to watch. At the moment the forecast shows the South and South East of England and most of Northern Ireland should have the best chance of clear skies, but as the thunderstorms are scattered it could be visible over much of the UK at some point of the eclipse. You can get the latest weather forecast via the Met Office here.
Where can I find out more about the blood moon?
If you want to know more information a good place to start is the British Astronomical Association or Astonomy Now, though younger children might prefer the NASA Kids Club or ESA Kids. You can also find a huge range of books on space and astronomy at Amazon*, including children's titles as well as those for adults.
Main image credit: Yui Mok/PA