London, Feb 20: The Moon will turn red as it passes through Earth's shadow in a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday night.
According to a report in New Scientist, the 3.5-hour eclipse will be visible from most locations on Earth if skies are clear, except for Asia and Australia.
Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes directly between the Sun and Moon, casting its shadow on the lunar surface. One edge of the Moon's face will begin to darken as the eclipse begins at 0143 GMT on Thursday, and the eclipse will end at 0509 GMT. The most dramatic phase, however, will occur from 0301 to 0351 GMT, when the Earth's shadow will completely cover the Moon. If you could watch the eclipse from the surface of the Moon, your surroundings would grow dark as the Sun disappears behind Earth. But the ground would still be lit by an eerie red glow. The source of this light would be a glowing red ring around Earth.
The red ring is due to sunlight being refracted through the Earth's atmosphere - essentially, the combined glow of all the world's sunrises and sunsets. It is the reason why the Moon is not black but reddish during a total lunar eclipse.
The deepest part of the eclipse, when the Moon is completely covered by Earth's shadow, will be visible from virtually all of North and South America, all of Europe, most of Africa and part of the Middle East.
The eclipse will not be visible from Asia, Australia or New Zealand, because the Moon will be below the horizon at these locations during the event.
The last total lunar eclipse was on 28 August 2007. The next one will occur on 21 December 2010.