A beautiful alignment of the Moon, the Sun and the Earth will result in a partial lunar eclipse next week. A partial eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow bites into the Moon’s glowing face, without obscuring it completely. The eclipse follows hot on the heels of a total eclipse of the Sun visible over South America on July 2. And if you need a good reason to see the eclipse next week, it will be the last lunar eclipse of the year.
When is the July lunar eclipse?
The lunar eclipse will arrive exactly two weeks after the July 2 totality.
In the astronomical movements of the heavens, lunar eclipses typically follow solar eclipses within a fortnight.
This means the lunar eclipse will peak on the night of July 16.
US space agency NASA expects the eclipse to peak at precisely 10.31pm BST or 9.31pm UTC.
Interestingly enough, July 16 is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 rocket launch.
Where will the lunar eclipse be visible?
The last lunar eclipse on January 21 this year, passed over large swathes of the globe, including both Americas, parts of northern Siberia and westernmost Europe.
This time around, the partial eclipse will pass over most of Africa, the Middle East and parts of India.
Parts of Europe, such as Norway and the UK will have to wait until moonrise to catch a glimpse of the eclipse.
The whole of North America will miss out on the event entirely.
What time will the eclipse be visible in the UK?
A lunar eclipse goes through several stages, starting and ending with penumbral eclipsing.
Each stage depends on the amount of Earth’s shadow falling on the Moon.
Here in the UK, when viewed from London, penumbral eclipsing and the start of partial eclipsing will occur below the horizon.
Then, around 10.30pm BST (9.31pm UTC) the eclipsed Moon will peak in the night skies.
Partial eclipsing will end around 11.59pm BST (10.59pm UTC) and penumbral eclipsing will then end around 1.17am BST (12.17am UTC).
What is a partial eclipse of the Moon?
During a lunar eclipse, the Moon dips into the Earth’s shadow cast by the Sun.
If the three bodies align completely, the Moon disappears entirely in the Earth’s umbra or darkest shadow.
If the Moon only partially enters the umbra, we witness a partial eclipse of the Moon.
Sometimes the Moon will pass through the Moon’s weakest shadow or the penumbra, resulting in a penumbral eclipse.
Penumbral eclipses are typically not discernible from a regular Moon in the skies.
US space agency NASA said: “Throughout the year, the Moon’s orbital tilt remains fixed with respect to the stars, meaning that it changes with respect to the Sun.
“About twice a year, this puts the Moon in just the right position to pass through the Earth’s shadow, causing a lunar eclipse.
“As the Moon passes into the central part of the Earth’s shadow, called the umbra, it darkens dramatically.”