Lunar eclipse 2022: The best time to see Blood Moon tonight in the UK

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The Earth will position itself between the Moon and Sun in the early hours of the morning, blocking all direct sunlight from illuminating the Moon’s surface. We’ll see a Blood Moon because the marginal sunlight bouncing through the Earth’s atmosphere will immerse the Moon in a reddish-orange glow. Terrestrial observers across the globe will be taking to the outdoors to watch as the celestial phenomenon passes, but when’s the best time to see it in the UK?

This will be the first total lunar eclipse since May 26, 2021, and the first of two to take place this year.

These eclipses aren’t always visible for sky watchers in certain areas however, this one will be pretty clear for many – weather permitting.

Depending on where you are in the world, the total lunar eclipse – termed May’s Super Blood Moon, can be seen starting Sunday, May 15 for those in North, Central and South America.

However, for those in Britain and further across Europe, the Blood Moon will be visible in the early hours of Monday, May 16.

When is the best time to see the Super Blood Moon in the UK?

For those in Britain, the partial eclipse will start at 2.28am BST.

During this phase, the Moon travels through the Earth’s full ‘umbral’ shadow. According to Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG), on this occasion, only a small section of the Moon will be covered by the umbra at maximum eclipse.

Unlike those in America, Britons will not be able to see every part of the eclipse, but you will be able to see its totality phase when the Moon turns red.

The total lunar eclipse phase will start in the UK just before 4.30am and will last for more than five hours, before ending at 7.50am.

However, UK stargazers will only be able to see the eclipse between 2.28am and 5.10am, as the Moon will have sunk below the horizon by this time.

The eclipse lasts so long because the Earth is four times wider than the moon. This means its shadow can darken the Moon for around five hours, and in some cases six, depending on the weather.

The optimal time to view the eclipse in the UK will be between 4.29am and 5.06am, when the whole red Moon will be visible.

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You’ll be able to see the eclipse simply by going outside during the optimal viewing time, but NASA will be live streaming it here too, with expert commentary on each step of the process.

Why doesn’t a lunar eclipse happen every month?

Total lunar eclipses only take place at least twice, every three years according to RMG.

An eclipse will only occur during the Full Moon phase of the Moon’s cycle, but this doesn’t happen every month – despite the cycle lasting 29.5 days.

This is because the Moon’s orbit is inclined five degrees relative to the Earth’s orbit, meaning it will move slightly up and down as it travels around Earth, instead of in one straight, even path.

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