Skygazers ready for blood red 'supermoon' over the UK


A blood red "supermoon" will appear in the skies above Britain for the first time in 30 years this morning.

The eerie light created from a lunar eclipse with the moon near to its closest point to the Earth will delight amateur astronomers while filling others with dread.

Some religious groups and believers in astrology are convinced it is a sign that the End of Days is approaching.

The spectacle was due to unfold from 1.10am in the UK, with the "total" phase - when the moon is completely in shadow - lasting from 3.11am to 4.24am. It will end when the moon leaves the Earth's shadow at 6.24am.

When the moon is at perigee, its shortest distance from the Earth, it is 226,000 miles away and appears 14% larger and 30% brighter than when it is at its furthermost point.

The last time this coincided with a lunar eclipse, when the moon is covered by the Earth's shadow, was in 1982 and the event will not be repeated until 2033.

During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a deep rusty red, due to sunlight being scattered by the Earth's atmosphere.

Through the ages, so-called "blood moons" have been viewed as ill omens by superstitious people.

Anyone staying up to see the red moon is in for a "quite an unusual sight", according to Society for Popular Astronomy vice president Robin Scagell.

His tips are to arm yourself with binoculars and look out for the deep redness in the sky when the moon is fully in shadow.

The shade will depend on the atmospheric conditions, and there may be a bluish tinge at the moon's edge.

Unlike with a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is completely safe to observe through binoculars or a small telescope.

Many believe this eclipse is significant as it marks the completion of an unusual line-up of four total eclipses at six-monthly intervals known as a "tetrad".

Texan pastor and author John Hagee says this has only happened three times in the past 500 years and claims it is likely to herald a "hugely significant" world event.