Friday 23 August 2019

Partial lunar eclipse Q&A: Where can we see it? When will the eclipse happen? Is it safe to look at?

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Jamie Harris

A partial lunar eclipse is set to be visible across parts of Ireland today, if clear weather and conditions hold up.

The event is particularly special for stargazers, as the date coincides with the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 launching on its moon mission.

What is a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, sun, and moon are almost exactly in line and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.

The moon is full, moves into the shadow of the Earth and dims dramatically but usually remains visible, lit by sunlight that passes through the Earth's atmosphere.

When are we expected to see it?

The eclipse can be seen in Ireland the UK from moon rise, which starts at approximately 9.07pm BST, until around 1.17am.

According to the Royal Astronomical Society, mid-eclipse is expected to take place at 10.30pm, when about 60 per cent of the visible surface of the moon will be covered by the umbra - which can sometimes appear red in colour to people observing from the ground due to a more powerful atmospheric scattering of blue light hitting the surface.

"You're looking for anywhere that has a low unobstructed horizon, no tall buildings and trees in the way," said Dr Morgan Hollis from the Royal Astronomical Society.

Do I need equipment to safely look at it?

Anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse will be glad to hear that they won't need to search for equipment to watch it through.

Dr Morgan explains: "Unlike a solar eclipse it's entirely safe to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye, so this one is fine, you don't need any special equipment and it should be fairly warm as well, given temperatures recently, it should be good if the weather is clear and the conditions are clear."

The event will also take place over much of Asia, Africa, eastern parts of South America, and the western parts of Australia.

PA Media

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