The Night of the Blood Red Moon
On the 10th December, an event will take place that in days gone by, filled society with dread. The eerie sight of the Moon turning a deep blood red would often be interpreted as a bad omen. Fortunately today, we understand the mechanism behind these strange events and can enjoy them in all their glory.
The real explanation for the strange lunar colour change has its origins in the motions of the Moon and Earth around the Sun. We see the Moon because it reflects sunlight, turn the Sun off and the Moon would seem to vanish. During a lunar eclipse, as they are known, the Earth passes between the Moon and Sun, blocking sunlight from reaching the lunar surface. If it wasn’t for the atmosphere on Earth, the Moon would simply go dark but the scattering effects of our atmosphere bend or refract sunlight back to the Moon. Of all the colours of the spectrum, red is the one that makes it through to the Moon and so it turns a deep red colour. It is worth noting that the presence of cloud and dust in the atmosphere will determine just how red the Moon will actually go.
The eclipse will noticeably start (U1) at 12:45 GMT as the shadow of the Earth starts to creep across the face of the Moon until at 14:06 GMT the shadow covers the Moon entirely (U2), this is the start of the total phase of the eclipse. The eclipse reaches its mid point at 14:31 GMT and totality finally ends (U3) at 14:57 GMT. The shadow finally leaves the Moon (U4) at 16:17.
Checkout the image below to see how much of the eclipse you will be able to see from your location, using the references in brackets above U1, U2 etc.