How to see rare 'super blood moon' in Greater Manchester tonight
Two rare lunar events coincide tonight to give stargazers a potential glimpse of a stunning 'super blood moon'. People across the world will be able to enjoy the spectacle, but according to NASA those of us in the UK will have to stay up until the early hours of Sunday to witness it - and hope the skies stay clear of clouds, YorkshireLive reports.
The event is a combination of a lunar eclipse - something that happens fairly frequently when the Earth passes between the Moon and the Sun, casting its shadow over our view of the Moon - and two more unusual occurrences. A so-called 'blood moon' happens when the Moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse - or appears to.
This happens because the only light reaching the Moon is from the edges of the Earth's atmosphere and this has caused all the blue light to be 'scattered out', leaving red light to be reflected off the Moon's surface and making it appear red in the sky as we look at it from Earth. The 'blood moon' can also occur at other times when the Moon appears red - for instance when there is dust, smoke or haze in the sky or when autumn's leaves are turning red.
A 'super moon' is actually a colloquial name for something astrologers call a perigean full moon. That is, a full moon that occurs when the moon as its closest point to the Earth during its orbit, making it appear bigger in the night sky.
It looks bigger than usual because it is a bit closer to us. In the early hours on Sunday morning, these two special events will coincide meaning we will have a chance to see a rare 'super blood moon' - a moon that glows like a large red disk in the sky.
It will also be a first full lunar eclipse since May last year. It will last just over five hours, but the moon will only be red for an hour and a quarter as the Earth's shadow passes over it.
In Europe and UK, it will start at 2.28am on Sunday, May 15 and should turn red by 3.29am, before the eclipse ends at 4.54am.