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Blood moon
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Blood moon eclipse 2018: what, when and how to see it

By Megan Carnegie
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The super blue blood moon? So January. This month, it’s all about the blood moon eclipse: the longest lunar eclipse of the century, lasting one hour and 43 minutes. For some Doomsday enthusiasts it’s supposed to mark the end of the world, but for most Londoners it’s just – in the immortal words of Toploader – a fine and natural sight. Here’s everything you need to know about the July 2018 blood moon.

What is a blood moon?

A lunar eclipse takes place when the moon passes through the earth’s shadow (think back to that Jaffa Cake advert) and it becomes a ‘blood’ moon when sunlight, filtered through the earth’s atmosphere, bounces back onto the moon’s craggy surface. Admittedly, it won’t be blood red, but expect a definite reddish tinge. This one’s going to be a real celestial treat because Mars will also appear extra bright as it passes the closest to Earth it’ll get in 15 years. That’s right: Mars and the moon right next to each other. It’s a real astronomical money shot.

When is this blood moon happening?

It begins at 8.49pm on Friday Jul 27 and will be over by 11.32pm, reaching maximum eclipse point at 9.20pm. If the images of the 2015 lunar eclipse are anything to go by, it might be worth pausing ‘Love Island’.    

How can I see it?

England didn’t win that other game involving chasing a spherical object, but our luck’s in here – because south-east England is the best place in the UK to see the lunar eclipse. Unlike a solar eclipse, you can look at it with the naked eye, but grab a telescope or binoculars for a proper ogle. 

What's the weather saying?

There will be aptly atmospheric thundery showers on Friday afternoon: good news for London’s scorched parks, less good for eclipse-spotters. We’re hoping the light rain forecast for the evening won’t obstruct the view.

Where can I see it in London?

Anywhere! Well, anywhere outdoors, with the best views from semi-rural spots with minimal local light pollution. The moon will be low in the sky so you need a clear, unobstructed horizon  you could head to one of the city’s Dark Sky Discovery Sites (the gold-top of stargazing locations): the WaterWorks Nature Reserve in Leyton or the Grove Park Nature Reserve in Lewisham, but any of the city’s many excellent parks will do the trick. For North Londoners, Parliament Hill and Primrose Hill are solid options, while Crystal Palace is a great spot in south London. Happy moongazing!

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