'A feast for the eyes' as the world awaits longest lunar eclipse

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People all over the world were looking to the skies on Friday night for the longest lunar eclipse of the century, which was also a blood moon.

Galloway Dark Sky Park has been recognised as one of the best places in the United Kingdom to stargaze and so will be a great spot to witness the blood moon tonight.

If you are one of those who is excited to see the "blood moon" or what is better known as "total lunar eclipse", this is your chance.

You'll need a clear view of the horizon towards the south east to get the best possible view.

2018 has five eclipses - three partial solar eclipses and two total lunar eclipses.

Why is this lunar eclipse special?

A picture shows the full moon during a "blood moon" eclipse beside a statue of ancient Greek goddess Athena in central Athens on July 27, 2018.

The longest lunar eclipse of this century will coincide with Mars' closest approach to Earth in 15 years on Friday.

The total lunar eclipse happens Friday afternoon (our time), and will last around one hour and 45 minutes. The only light reflected from the lunar surface has been refracted by Earth's atmosphere.

A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big
A super blood moon in Malmö in 2015. Friday's blood moon won't be as big

The Virtual Telescope Project is hosting the alluringly named "Night of the Red Moon and the Red Planet" and will have its cameras trained on the moon during the eclipse. Though the opposition of Mars is on July 27, it comes closest to us on July 31. This is when the moon passes in front of the Earth's shadow.

Before we had explanations before what causes the moon to appear red, ancient cultures often feared the worst.

Here are some of the most googled questions about the lunar eclipse answered.

In Thailand, the total eclipse will be visible from 2:30am to 4:13am local time on July 28. This is partly because the moon is lower in the sky in the north, and partly because the northern light summer nights mean that the blood colour will not be as clearly visible.

"It really was more of a public relations or public affairs kind of thing than it was anything else because you know the moon's color in eclipses can range anywhere from a tan or coppery color actually", Pitts said.

The Virtual Telescope project is setting up a live stream from the Roman Forum on the Palatine Hill in Rome, Italy. So it is not just the red moon but the red planet also making its presence felt in the night sky tomorrow.

However, he said it was still worth seeing as the next blood moon would not be visible in New Zealand until May 2021.

Total eclipses of the Moon are spectacular events and are easy to see with the naked eye.

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