Cloud cover set to block Northern Ireland's view of rare blood moon

The period of total eclipse, when earth's shadow covered the moon and it is at its reddest, lasted one hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds, making it the longest viewable lunar eclipse of the century.

The eclipse will have been visible from Southern Africa to the Middle East, Russia, India, and Australia.

The lunar eclipse is coined "blood moon" for the color change of the moon, as seen from Earth, while it is immersed in Earth's shadow.

For those in North America, several scientific organizations will offer livestreams of the celestial event.

July's lunar eclipse coincided with the lunar apogee when the moon is furthest away from the Earth in its monthly orbit, meaning it takes longer to cross its shadow.

When the three celestial bodies are perfectly lined up, however, the Earth's atmosphere scatters blue light from the sun while refracting or bending red light onto the moon, usually giving it a rosy blush. You don't need a telescope to watch a total lunar eclipse, at least NASA believes that.

The copper-red eclipsed moon will pair up with the Red Planet in its "opposition", in which the Sun and Mars will lie opposite each other, with Earth standing in between.

Aussies across the country set their alarms early and were treated to an wonderful view of the rare eclipse.

Baboons silhouetted by the moon at the city zoo in Brasilia Brazil
ERALDO PERES AP Baboons silhouetted by the moon at the city zoo in Brasilia Brazil

As we get ready to witness a total lunar eclipse today (July 27), here's a photo throwback to the rare supermoon total lunar eclipse of September 28, 2015. The next lunar eclipse of such a length is due in 2123.

The full moon will begin to darken as it enters the Earth's shadow at 7.15pm, with the total eclipse beginning at 9.30pm.

When the moon reaches this point on the same day as it becomes a full moon, it's popularly known as a supermoon.

Andrew Fabian, professor of astronomy at the University of Cambridge, explained how the Moon took on the red hue.

Observers may be able to catch a glimpse of the red planet, as it will appear like an orange-red star close to the moon. Throughout history, many non-Christian cultures have interpreted the disappearance of the trusty moon as a dark omen.

"The Earth doesn't rotate far enough this time around for anyone in North America - the U.S. and Alaska - to see the eclipse but there are other eclipses that we don't see, there's always a little bit of the Earth that misses out".

But Robert Massey, from the Royal Astronomical Society, reassured the doubters.

As it rose, during this total eclipse, Earth's natural satellite turned a striking shade of red or ruddy brown.

  • Joey Payne