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Brief glimpse of 'blood moon' over Lapland

Skywatchers in Finland will have a chance to see the longest-lasting blood moon this century on Friday night - but up north the eclipse can only be seen for 10 minutes.

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Friday night's blood moon will be the longest-lasting so far this century. Image: Rolex Dela Pena / EPA

Friday night’s total lunar eclipse will be visible across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and in many parts of Asia and Australia. During the phenomenon, the moon appears red as it is illuminated by sunlight filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere, hence the term "blood moon".

It will be the longest-lasting eclipse this century. The most dramatic part of the total blackout of the moon is expected to last nearly two hours, at one hour 43 minutes as the orb passes very close to the centre of the Earth’s shadow.

Overall, the blackout will last for about six hours, but in Finland it should be visible for about four and a half hours altogether depending on weather conditions.

Safe to watch with naked eye

According to the Finnish astronomical society Ursa, the eclipse will last from 10.30pm to 12.13am, peaking at around 11.22pm. Weather permitting, it should be visible throughout the country.

However in the far north from vantage points like the Utsjoki River, the phenomenon will only be seen for about 10 minutes and visibility will be hampered by the midnight sun.

During the eclipse, the moon will hang low in the night sky so amateur astronomers stand a good chance of following the extraordinary event. Ursa said that it is perfectly safe to look at the moon with the naked eye, or with binoculars or telescopes.

The astronomical society said that Friday night’s blood moon will be the longest lunar eclipse since the year 2000. The last full blackout widely visible in Finland took place in September 2015.

Stargazers who miss the celestial show will have another chance at seeing a full lunar eclipse on 21 January 2019. In general lunar eclipses are seen on Earth roughly two to four times each year, but full blackouts are less common.

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