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How to see tonight's ‘Wolf moon’ lunar eclipse © Steve Parsons/PA

How to see tonight's ‘Wolf moon’ lunar eclipse

Published: 10th January, 2020 at 12:43
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The penumbral lunar eclipse is set to delight skygazers after sunset.

Astronomy enthusiasts are in for a treat on Friday evening as the first full Moon of 2020, also known as the “Wolf Moon”, coincides with a lunar eclipse.


Weather permitting, those gazing up at the skies will witness a penumbral lunar eclipse when the Moon passes through the Earth’s shadow,

The phenomenon, which will begin at 17:00 GMT and is expected to end at around 21:00, will see the Moon move into Earth’s penumbra, or outer shadow, causing the Earth’s natural satellite to look darker than normal.

Bonnie Diamond, a spokesperson for the Met Office, said “lovely clear skies” are expected for south-east England in the evening.

But she added skies may be cloudier in the western parts of the country, with heavy rain expected across Northern Ireland and Scotland in the late afternoon.

In January, the full Moon is sometimes labelled a “wolf” Moon, an unusual celestial label which seems to have stuck.

Read more stargazing and astronomy:

Ed Bloomer, an astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “The first full Moon of 2020 is today, and here in the UK we should be able to see it nice and clearly.

“It will be rising in the east as the Sun sets in the west, and we’ll be able to observe it throughout the night.”

But those expecting the Moon to turn red, a phenomenon dubbed the Blood Moon, will be disappointed.

The first full moon of 2020, also known as wolf moon © Danny Lawson/PA
The first full moon of 2020, also known as wolf moon © Danny Lawson/PA

Mr Bloomer added: “We won’t see the same dramatic dimming and reddening visible during a total lunar eclipse.

“Unfortunately, we won’t get one of those until 2021, though there are another three penumbral eclipses to look forward to in 2020.”


The next full Moon will occur on 9 February, which is also known as Snow Moon.


Alexander McNamaraOnline Editor, BBC Science Focus

Alexander is the former Online Editor at BBC Science Focus.


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