Science

Friday the 13th brings dark supermoon eclipse – here's everything you need to know

It is unknown why Friday the 13th is a date so feared all over the world.

But the fright of it is very real. So real in fact that there is an official name for it (friggatriskaidekaphobia, if you were wondering).

And those superstitious people who suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia have even more reason to be worried today, as the unlucky day just so happens to clash with a dark supermoon eclipse.

But what does it mean and where can you see it?

This will be the second of only two Friday the 13ths this year – the first was in April and was certainly unlucky for this lorry driver.

We are getting two eclipses this month and the first happens to be today.

Here’s all you need to know.

What is the eclipse of July 13?

The first supermoon of 2018, known as a ‘Wolf moon’
(Image: PA)

This will be a partial solar eclipse, occurring when the new moon moves in front of the sun, making it look like a bite has been taken out of it.

Interestingly, this new moon is also a supermoon.

This means the moon’s elliptical orbit is at its closest point to the Earth – 31,000 miles nearer than when at its furthest point – so it appears around 14 per cent larger than usual.

But because this is at the time of a new moon, it won’t be amazingly bright – this only happens when a supermoon coincides with the full moon stage of the lunar cycle.

So this one is referred to as a dark supermoon, reports Birmingham Live.

Where will the eclipse be visible?

People view a solar eclipse
(Image: Getty Images North America)

This particular eclipse will only be visible in a few parts of the world.

Most of the eclipse happens over the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean.

People on the southern coasts of Australia and New Zealand should be able to see a small part of the eclipse.

And anyone based at the research stations in Antarctica will get the best view of all, with as much as 21 per cent of the sun covered by the moon.

Although it won’t be visible in the skies over Bristol and the rest of the UK, you could try to watch online via any webcam coverage of the event.

How to watch it

The supermoon rises behind Glastonbury Tor on September 28, 2015
(Image: Getty Images Europe)

Experts warn stargazers never to look directly at the sun during the eclipse.

Even with the moon obscuring part of the surface of the sun, the light is still bright enough to blind you.

The best option is to watch the event using a pair of special solar eclipse glasses – but these are not always easy to track down.

Normal sunglasses are not good enough. Welders goggles, a pinhole camera or even a kitchen colander would be okay though.

The National Space Centre in Leicester gave this advice: "It is imperative people are reminded that looking at the sun is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted under a very specific set of circumstances.

"All of these circumstances require specialist equipment.

"To observe the eclipse, specialised filters are required to prevent damage to the eyes.

"These filters can be found in expensive specialised solarscopes (local astronomy groups may have access to these) or inexpensively in the form of disposable solar viewing glasses.

"Often around the times of an eclipse these glasses become available attached to astronomy magazines, newspapers may give them away on the day and they can be bought online fairly easily.

"It is worth noting that even using this specialised equipment it is highly recommended that you don’t look through the glasses at the sun for longer than two minutes at a time."

When is the next eclipse

There will be a partial solar eclipse on August 11 but it won’t be visible from the UK – it can be seen from from northern and eastern Europe, northernmost areas of North America, and some northern and western parts of Asia.

The next eclipse we will be able to see in the UK is the total lunar eclipse of July 27-28.

After that we will have to wait until January 21, 2019, when there will be another total lunar eclipse.

What it means according to astrologers

Strange phenonema are known to happen during an eclipse but for astrologers there is even more significance.

It’s said the solar eclipse of July 2018 is influenced by opposition to Pluto, suggesting a crisis with self-esteem or relationships.

The period between this eclipse and the lunar eclipse of July 27/28 is supposedly an ideal time to make a fresh start.

Astronomers suggest you write down your goals and start a transformation in your love life, finances or creative endeavours, overcoming the threat of a potential crisis.

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