THIS Saturday night, star gazers in the Balearics will be able to watch a total eclipse of the moon.
The eclipse, for which astronomers said yesterday viewing conditions will be the best for the next 22 years, the next lunar eclipse which will be visible from the Balearics is not expected until June 26, 2029, is the first of two lunar eclipses this year.
The phenomenon will be clearly visible with the naked eye but for those who want a real close up look, the planetarium in Costitx will be opening especially for the eclipse. A giant screen is going to be erected outside to show images of the eclipse taken by the centre's giant telescopes. The planetarium will also be linking-up live with a number of other European observatories to share live images of the phenomenon. Sources at the planetarium said yesterday that during the eclipse, which will start at 9.26pm, the moon will turn red as it enters into the total eclipse phase as a result of the sunlight filtering through the edges of the Earth's atmosphere and bathing the lunar surface with a reddish-orange glow.
The total eclipse is expected to last one hour, 14 minutes.
The eclipse will be best seen from southern Europe and across Africa but, spotting the moon will initially be a bit difficult because it will be passing through the Earth's inner conical shadow as twilight starts to diminish.
This century will witness 85 lunar eclipses, the highest number since the 15th century.
The only threat to Saturday night's eclipse is the weather but the forecast, for the moment, predicts clear skies.