Wake up early to catch total eclipse of the moon

Kamogelo Seekoei

Kamogelo Seekoei

Tomorrow everyone on earth will witness a grand spectacle when the moon turns a dull red and hides itself behind the earth's shadow.

That is if people wake up early enough to watch the eclipse, a "once in a few years" occurrence.

The lunar eclipse will occur around 5am but it will take about an hour and a half for the moon to get completely in the earth's shadow.

"The eclipse starts at 3.42am (South African time), when the full moon starts moving into the shadow of the earth. From 5am to 5.50am, the moon will be totally eclipsed," said Claire Flanagan of the Johannesburg Planetarium.

The moon will start recovering from the eclipse at 5.50am.

Flanagan said people in areas where the moon took longer to set, like Cape Town, would experience the eclipse longer. But by 6.30am the moon will have recovered.

This astronomical phenomenon will not only be experienced in South Africa but the world over.

"Everyone will get a chance to see it but it will be at different times for different time zones. You do not need anything to watch the eclipse. You can see it with the naked eye," Flanagan said.

She said people should take time to watch the "beautiful but weird" eclipse.

"It is worth pausing for because it is not a regular thing and the next one is expected in 2011," she said.

Flaganan said watchers must also look out for a line-up of planets that will be visible just before dawn this whole week.

"Venus will be the bright morning star in the east. Jupiter will be above it and Mercury will be just below Venus," Flanagan said.

She encouraged people to watch the eclipse.