Stargazers in the UK and across much of the rest of the world will be treated to a lunar eclipse on Friday 27 June, as Earth finds itself positioned between the Moon and the Sun.
The effect of this is that the Moon will take on a beautiful red hue as it rises.
This is the result of sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere, causing the light to be refracted so that the red portion of the spectrum is reflected of the surface of the Moon.
Observing this effect from Earth, the lunar surface appears a rusty red, and the good news is that you can see it all with the naked eye.
How to see the lunar eclipse
The Moon will already be eclipsed as it rises, meaning all you have to do is be facing the right direction at the right time.
Moonrise on 27 July is due to occur around 21:10 BST in the UK, although timings will vary slightly depending on where you are in the country.
Be sure to face southeast and make sure you have a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon.
This will enable you to catch totality, which will occur at about 21:22 BST.
The Moon will then lose its red hue as it comes out of totality, and the next stage will be a partial lunar eclipse, which appears like the phases of the Moon in reverse.
The eclipse will end at about 00:29 BST, and by then the Moon will be positioned in the south-southeast.
Red all around
As if this spectacle wasn’t enough, Mars is practically at opposition during the eclipse, and will consequently be very easy to make out.
The Red Planet will rise after the red Moon and will make an appearance close to 22:00 BST.
It will be visible just below and to the right of the eclipsed Moon, which should make for a good observing spectacle or astrophoto opportunity.
During the eclipse, you should also be able to make out bright stars Alpha (a) and Beta (b) Capricorni just above the Moon.
So while you will be able to enjoy the event with the naked eye, a pair of binoculars or a telescope might not be a bad idea either.
Of course, all this depends on the weather and clear skies, but given that the lunar eclipse is occurring on a Friday night, you can always plan a home BBQ or meet friends in your local beer garden, making the event an added bonus if the UK weather behaves itself.