Lunar eclipse tonight coincides with unusual positioning of Earth, Sun and Mars

A blood moon will appear in the night sky around much of the world on Friday night

"In the middle of a lunar eclipse it can look as if a red planet has taken up residence near the Earth - they are both eerie and lovely", said Robert Massey of the Royal Astronomical Society in London.

The total eclipse will last 1 hour and 43 minutes.

This full moon in July is also known as the Full Buck Moon and the Thunder Moon, occurring when a male deer's antlers are in full growth and at a time of frequent thunderstorms, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.

The next total lunar eclipse in the United Kingdom will take place on January 19 2019.

Mars already appears brighter and it will shine even more vividly as the big day approaches.

"We have a rare and interesting conjunction of phenomena", Pascal Descamps, an astronomer with the Paris Observatory, told AFP. The planet, which has been visible with the naked eye for more than a week, won't be as close to Earth for another 17 years.

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Amateur astronomers in the southern hemisphere are best-placed to witness the rare sight, especially in southern Africa, Australia, South Asia and Madagascar, though it will also be partly visible in Europe and South America.

During totality, which begins at around 3:30 p.m. EDT (19:30 UTC), the moon will be immersed in Earth's shadow and will be "illuminated by red light filtered by the [Earth's] atmosphere", Diego said.

"The earth's atmosphere then turns the light red in the same way that the sun appears when it is going down", Prof Fabian said. The sky show will not be visible from North America, but there's still a way to catch all the action surrounding the "blood moon" online. "But when you get really deep lunar eclipses, like we've had a few of over the last couple of years, a really great way to promote that is if you attach the moniker onto it that it's a "blood red" moon and that really engages people to go out and see it".

Viewers in central Asia will see the moon pass into Earth's shadow at 10:44 p.m. local time and can expect the eclipse to peak at around midnight.

NASA, meanwhile, called out social media hoaxers claiming that Mars would appear as big as the moon during the eclipse. The Moon causes tides in the ocean due to its gravitational pull. This is what makes it appear so brightly in our sky, beginning early Friday morning.

"For those alive today, it´s a unique event", said Sven Melchert, head of a local society of astronomy enthusiasts in Heppenheim, western Germany, cited by the DPA news agency.

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