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The BBC's Robert Hall
"The whole sequence will take just over three hours"
 real 56k

Brunel University's Professor Heinz Wolff,
"The effect on populations could be devastating"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 9 January, 2001, 14:08 GMT
Red moon at night, skygazers' delight
Lunar eclipse
If the conditions are right the moon will turn blood-red
The best place to see what astronomers hope will be the clearest total eclipse of the moon for 10 years will be Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Those in northern England and Wales are still in with a chance, but a blanket of cloud and even rain, could prevent many in southern England witnessing Tuesday's drama.

For those with clear skies, the eclipse will be visible to the naked eye from 1842GMT, when the Moon first begins slipping behind the Earth's shadow.


Something bad could happen because of all the negative energy created by people fearful of what it can do

Kevin Carlyon
White Witch
Its silvery outline will gradually disappear until it is totally eclipsed at 1950GMT.

For about an hour no direct sunlight will reach the Moon and it may turn a deep blood-red colour as it is hit by light filtered and bent through the Earth's atmosphere.

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "The moon will darken and may turn a reddish or yellow colour, depending on how much cloud there is around.

Plane flying across eclipsed mooon
Eclipse means doom and gloom for some
"It's going to be a nice one - assuming that the weather is clear, of course."

Astronomers' high hopes for a night to remember are due to the length of time since the last major volcanic eruption - Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 - which means the Earth's atmosphere is relatively free of dust.

But not all are looking forward to witnessing the three-hour phenomena.

An estimated 1,500 white witches are planning to gather in Britain, Sweden, Iceland, France, Canada and Australia during the eclipse to ward off any doom it may bring.

Dozens are expected at the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire.

Next eclipse

Kevin Carlyon, high priest of the British White Witches and the Covenant of Earth Magic, said: "People have been calling me, worried about what could happen as a result of the eclipse.

"In old days the peasant people used to think that it brought gloom and doom."

Mr Carlyon, of Hastings, East Sussex, said: "But the reality is something bad could happen because of all the negative energy created by people fearful of what it can do."

The last lunar eclipse visible in Britain was on 21 January 2000 at 0400GMT - a less than ideal viewing time.

The next time Britain will have a grandstand view of a total lunar eclipse will be November 2003.

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See also:

21 Jan 00 | Sci/Tech
Moon glows red
08 Jan 01 | Sci/Tech
Skywatchers wait for eclipse
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