Tonight's partial lunar eclipse coincides with 50th anniversary of launch of Apollo 11

Tonight will see a partial eclipse of the Moon which will be visible shortly after sunset. The eclipse takes place 50 years to the day after the launch of Apollo 11 - the spaceflight which landed Neil Armstrong on the Moon.

Tuesday, 16th July 2019, 11:40 am
An illustration of the 16 July lunar eclipse, illustrating the appearance of the Moon at different times, and the corresponding location of the Moon in the sky. Pic: Greg Smye-Rumsby / Astronomy Now

The Royal Astronomical Society explained further “In a lunar eclipse, 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.

"Stronger atmospheric scattering of blue light means that the light that reaches the lunar surface is predominantly red in colour, so for observers on Earth the eclipsed part of the Moon may be brick-coloured, rusty, blood red, or sometimes dark grey, depending on terrestrial conditions.”

The eclipse is expected to peak at 10.31pm BST, but should be visible for over an hour either side of this time.

The moon will be relatively low in the sky throughout the eclipse, so you will need to make sure you have an unobstructed view towards the south eastern horizon.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is completely safe to look at with the naked eye, so can be enjoyed as a free and beautiful astronomical spectacle, or if you have a good pair of binoculars or a telescope why not watch the event in detail?