Total Lunar Eclipse – 27 July 2018

Total Lunar Eclipse

On 27th July, a total lunar eclipse will occur. This will be the second of it’s kind to grace the skies in 2018. This time, the Moon turning ‘blood’ red will be visible from Western Africa, and Central Asia, seen rising over South America, Eastern Africa, and Europe, and setting over Eastern Asia, and Australia.

Lunar Eclipse Diagram - July 27, 2018
Courtesy of Fred Espenak –

During this event, the full Moon will pass through the Earth’s shadow (or umbra) lasting around 6 hours and 14 minutes from beginning to end. This is a very deep eclipse that lasts longer than the previous one earlier in the year because the Moon passes through the central line of the Umbra. This increases the length of both the total phase and the eclipse overall. The illustration below shows how the Moon pass through the Earth’s shadow almost completely centrally. This could mean the Moon will appear darker during totality, however there are more factors at play here (read more below).

Total lunar eclipse 27 Jul 2018 animation
Click to see eclipse animation

How will the eclipse look on 27th July 2018?

The Moon will slowly turn from its familiar pearly white colour to a reddish colour then back to its original colour all over a period of around five hours. The shade of red can vary from eclipse to eclipse depending on a few factors including conditions in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and the position of the Moon along its orbit. If there have been any significant volcanic eruptions for example, this can cause the Moon to appear a much darker red than of other eclipses. The added amount of volcanic ash and dust in the Earth’s atmosphere can block more of the Sun’s light from refracting around the Earth causing deep, dark red effects. The total lunar eclipse on 28 September, 2015, (photographed at the top of this page), was considered particularly dark and this was not just down to volcanic eruptions or air pollution. The 2015, the event occurred during a perigee Moon when the Moon is closest to the Earth (coining the phrase ‘Supermoon Eclipse’ at the time). This meant that the Moon was deeper in to the Earth’s umbral shadow. The event on 27th July is the opposite and will occur during an apogee Moon, however the Moon will cross deeper in to the Earth’s shadow this time round. That being said, it’s hard to predict with certainty how red the Moon will appear on July 27, 2018. It’s best to wait and see and enjoy any surprises that this most easily observed astronomical event may reveal.

A photographic opportunity

During totality, many more stars can be seen than what could be seen during the full Moon. It’s a good photographic opportunity for a rare wide field shot of the eclipsed moon complimented by a background of stars. This particular eclipse occurs during moonrise for much of Europe so get your cameras ready for a nice landscape picture with an eclipsed Moon backdrop.

The Eclipse Timings

Lunar Eclipse 27/07/2018 Timings in UT/GMT

Eclipse PhaseTime (UT)
Penumbral eclipse begins Penumbral eclipse begins17:14
Partial eclipse begins Partial eclipse begins18.24
Total eclipse begins Total eclipse begins19:30
Maximum eclipse Maximum eclipse20:21
Total eclipse ends Total eclipse ends21:13
Partial eclipse ends Partial eclipse ends22:19
Penumbral eclipse ends Penumbral eclipse ends23:28