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Partial lunar eclipse may be seen from Kent tonight

By Rebecca Tuffin

Look out for a red moon tonight - a partial lunar eclipse could be visible from Kent along with the rest of the UK.

The eclipse coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, which took the first men to the moon.

The lunar eclipse should be most visible at around 10.30pm.

A partial lunar eclipse could make the moon appear red
A partial lunar eclipse could make the moon appear red

What is a partial lunar eclipse and why does it happen?

A lunar eclipse is when the sun, earth and a full moon are almost exactly in line, with the earth in the middle, casting a shadow on the moon's surface.

The moon dims dramatically but usually remains visible.

During a partial eclipse, some - but not all - of the moon passes through the darkest area of the Earth's shadow.

The partial lunar eclipse may appear grey tonight. Picture: O'Dea at Wikimedia Commons
The partial lunar eclipse may appear grey tonight. Picture: O'Dea at Wikimedia Commons

The surface often appears red because the earth blocks direct sunlight from reaching the moon and so the only light reflected off the surface has been refracted by the earth's atmosphere.

Like a sunset or sunrise, this scattering of blue light gives the moon a red appearance.

So, the moon may be rusty red tonight, or a less exciting dark grey - depending on conditions.

The moon travels to a similar position every month at full moon, but the tilt of the lunar orbit means it normally passes above or below the terrestrial shadow and no eclipse takes place.

When will it happen?

The full lunar eclipse in January
The full lunar eclipse in January

If the weather holds up and skies remain clear, the eclipse will be seen in Kent from moon rise - between 9pm and 10pm.

Mid-eclipse is at 10.30pm, when about 60% of the visible surface of the moon will appear red or dark grey.

The eclipse should end just after 1am tomorrow morning, when the moon leaves the earth's shadow.

How do I see it?

Anyone looking to get a good view of the moon tonight should find a "low unobstructed horizon" without tall buildings and trees, The Royal Astronomical Society advises.

Unlike a solar eclipse, it's entirely safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye.

You don't need any special equipment to see it, so just grab a couple of chairs, a blanket and a flask of tea and watch the natural spectacle unfold.

When did we last see a lunar eclipse in Kent?

The last total lunar eclipse - also know as a super blood wolf moon - visible in the county was in January.

The next partial lunar eclipse will not be until November 2021.

If you manage to get any photos of tonight's lunar eclipse, send them to rtuffin@thekmgroup.co.uk

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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