Total lunar eclipse: When to watch

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tonight is the longest total lunar eclipse of the century

During a total lunar eclipse that will last about 3-and-a-half hours on August 31, the Earth’s shadow will cover most of the sun’s surface with just its outer edge visible to the naked eye.

Below, our comprehensive guide to information and tips on how you can watch.

When to watch

You can get started by putting on your best viewing glasses. “Put them on when the umbra – the dark shadow – starts to appear on the face of the Moon,” says Ian Campbell, professor of astronomy at the University of Leicester.

“Find a comfortable spot and look! Let the Sunrise and Sunset in the UK guide you in: a red-hued ‘sunrise’ is the outer edge of the Moon being illuminated. The Sun is set in exactly the opposite direction.

He says on the new moon, when the Moon is on the edge of the Earth’s shadow, this is when you see the first red arc of the Moon during the eclipse.

Image copyright NASA Image caption The total lunar eclipse will be visible across Asia, Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and Latin America

For the unaided eye, this will be the partial eclipse. The naked eye should be able to see the Moon’s silhouette through a smudge of sunlight that’s made of the Earth’s atmosphere and spread far too thin for us to see.

When to book your tickets

Thanks to science and technology advancements, an increasingly advanced telescope is now able to allow you to safely observe the eclipse in dark room. “Don’t rely on books – the right telescope will let you do it directly and will have some pretty cool settings,” says Professor Campbell.

“What you need is a big enough telescope to observe through the Earth’s dark umbra (the shadow) and a safety-capable camera. Most times you need a pair of trained amateur astronomers, as it’s not safe to watch with your hand.”

He advises you choose a reputable telescope and reputable observatory, such as the Royal Observatory Greenwich (which has been observing the eclipse since the early hours of Thursday morning).

Otherwise, you could try out a digital camera and get the image you want with black-and-white film, or some quality film-stock if you’re able to fly to a specialist store.

Image copyright The Royal Observatory Greenwich Image caption At the end of the eclipse, the Moon will become a blood red colour

Where to watch

Image copyright The Royal Observatory Greenwich Image caption The last total lunar eclipse visible to North America was in January 2012

You can watch the eclipse live on NASA, here. Those in Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and central America can also watch a live feed on NASA here.

Satellite imagery:

If you live in a large population area, such as the UK, you will get views of the total eclipse across the country via your national broadcasters. The UK Met Office has built up a real-time map here .

Image copyright Alamy Image caption The total lunar eclipse will be visible across much of Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America

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