We're "perfectly placed" to see tonight's lunar eclipse

Keep watching the skies...

We're "perfectly placed" to see tonight's lunar eclipse

Ariel Schalit AP/Press Association Images

Ireland could not be better placed to see tonight's partial lunar eclipse.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and the moon are aligned with the earth in the middle. When the moon is only partially within the earth's shadow part of its surface appears darker, hence a partial lunar eclipse.

Astronomy Ireland says there won't be a total lunar eclipse visible from Ireland until January 21, 2019, therefore, this year's partial eclipse will be a most enjoyable event.

"We saw a similar, but poorer eclipse, last September, but it was low down in the East as the full moon was rising. Still, it was quite spectacular to the naked eye so tonight's eclipse should be an excellent sight for everyone in the country," said David Moore, Ireland's best known astronomer and editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine.

What will happen?

The eclipse officially begins at 10:34pm but the dimming on the top edge of the Moon will not be detectable with the naked eye until after 11pm, possibly from 11:30pm.
 
Mid-eclipse is at 12:44am i.e. just after midnight on Friday night. For about an hour either side of mid-eclipse the top edge of the Moon should have faded away as the moon almost enters the earth's shadow.
 
The eclipse is officially over at 2:53am Irish Time, although for the last hour, there will be no obvious dimming visible to the naked eye.
 
For those in the Leinster area, an all-night vigil is being organised to view the event at an "Eclipse Watch" from 10:30pm until 1am at Astronomy Ireland's Headquarters in Blanchardstown where some of the largest telescopes in Ireland are located. The event is free of charge.
 
"This is going to be the highlight of the year so we are strongly urging everyone to go out and look up at this spectacle of nature, and come along to the Eclipse Watch if you are in the Leinster area!" Mr Moore said.
 
Otherwise, Mr Moore has advised people to keep their eyes on the skies.
 
"Even if it is cloudy, you should keep checking the sky all evening as all you need is a tiny break in the clouds for a few seconds to see the eclipse," he said.
 
"You don't need a telescope or binoculars to see this event so everyone in Ireland should be able to see the eclipse," said Mr Moore.