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Where to see the blood moon in the UK

There's something special happening in the night sky this week and you could be in the perfect spot to witness it.

On Friday night (July 27, 2018), a blood moon will appear as stargazers enjoy the longest lunar eclipse of the century so far. For nearly two hours, the earth will sit directly between the sun and the moon – putting the moon totally in shadow of the earth.

Instead of falling into darkness, the moon appears a reddish hue thanks to a scattering of the earth's light wavelengths.

Weather permitting, the phenomenon should be visible across the UK and in many parts of the world.

When does the blood moon take place?

In the UK, the partial eclipse begins at 8.30pm, with the total eclipse happening between 9.20pm and 10.13pm.

Moonrise is due between 8.46pm (in Brighton) and 9.24pm (in Aberdeen).

Where is the best place to see the blood moon?

The very best spots to see the astral event are in a belt from east Africa, through the Middle East, across India and into China. So if you're jetting off on holiday to Dubai or Goa, be sure to set an alarm for this rare event.

Visible across Europe (only North America looks set to miss out), there are plenty of great places to see the blood moon in both the UK and our continental neighbours.

In the UK, anywhere away from the bright lights of a city will provide good viewing, though there are some amazing places you can visit to see the blood moon:

  • Exmoor: Europe's first Dark Sky Reserve, the national park straddles Somerset and Devon in England's south-west and has an abundance of opportunities to see the night sky at its best
  • Bodmin Moor: Visit Cornwall and take a trip to the wild moors of England's south-west
  • South Downs: Another Dark Sky Reserve, the south-east's rolling hills and non-light-polluted skies are ideal watching spots
  • Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland: Another popular sky-watching spot, this north-eastern park and surrounding areas are far from city lights – perfect for crisp dark skies
  • Galloway Forest Park: A Dark Sky Reserve in south-west Scotland, the park's remoteness makes it an astronomer's dream
  • Brecon Beacons: Wales' first Dark Sky Reserve, views here on a clear night are breath-taking
  • Snowdonia: More dark skies and open views make this beautiful area of North Wales a winner for dark-sky adventures.

Tips for watching the blood moon

Anyone can do it, and, unlike with a solar eclipse, you don't need any special equipment – the blood moon is visible and safe to look at with the naked eye.

With moonrise around the time of the eclipse, you'll want an uninterrupted (flat and unobscured) view of the south-east, where the moon will rise, to best see the blood moon.

There's something about Mars, too

Making its nearest approach to earth in 15 years, Mars will appear at its brightest from Friday – coinciding with the lunar eclipse – until Monday July 30. It'll be a mere 35.8million miles away!

Look for the pink-red bright light – around a third of the way between the horizon and overhead. It's at its highest at midnight.

The next time Mars is so close will be October 2020.

More night-sky wonders

If you miss the blood moon, or seeing it makes you want to discover more about what's in our night skies, take a look at our Stargazing guide. We guarantee to have you spotting stars like Professor Brian Cox in no time at all.

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