Astronomy enthusiasts will set their alarms in the early hours of Monday morning to catch a glimpse of a dramatic super blood moon.
Earth will come between the sun and the moon just before dawn in Western Europe, causing the moon to appear brick red as it falls into Earth’s shadow. The effect is caused by the Earth’s atmosphere deflecting some of the sunlight towards it.
In most of North America and South America, the lunar eclipse should be visible Sunday evening if the sky is clear.
The only full lunar eclipse this year occurs during a supermoon, when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit, making it appear larger.
In Britain, the moon will be fully eclipsed from 4:29 a.m. in the southwestern sky. Because it will be low and close to sunset, it is best viewed from a high point or a location with a clear horizon, such as the coast.
Dr Robert Massey, deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society, said the phenomenon was “relatively unusual” and recommended getting up to see it.
“If people have clear skies, I would highly recommend going out to look for it, even if it’s a completely inconvenient time of night, because they can be very beautiful events,” he said.
Massey sets an alarm at 3 a.m. and plans to drive to the coast if the skies are clear.
The last lunar eclipse with a supermoon that could have been visible from Britain was in 2019, but it was largely obscured by a cloudy night. With showers and thunderstorms forecast for much of the UK overnight, the same issue is likely to occur this year.
For those with clear skies, the key will be to find a spot with a southwesterly view of the horizon.
Massey said: “You’ve got to go somewhere where you’re not going to have this horizon cluttered with buildings, trees, etc. Because otherwise, especially because it’s very low, it will become more and more difficult to see.
Many astronomers object to the term “blood moon” because it comes from an apocalyptic prophecy in the Bible. Massey said, “I think the brick red and the copper color are a lot more accurate than the blood color, frankly. Unless your blood is glistening, in which case I think I would recommend medical treatment.
The start of this week will bring the kind of temperatures typically seen at the height of summer for much of Britain. Parts of the south east are expected to have highs of 27C on Tuesday, according to the Met Office.
However, the heat wave will be interspersed with showers, which can mitigate a possible heat wave. Met Office meteorologist Sarah Kent said: ‘There’s going to be a lot of rain sometimes, so it really depends on how long the sun is up.