And if that isn’t enough to whet the appetites of amateur stargazers, Mars will the closest to Earth it has been since 2003.

During a total lunar eclipse, the sunlight which reaches the Moon is refracted by Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out the Sun’s blue light – making the moon look red.

Next month’s eclipse will be especially long because the Moon will pass almost directly through the centre of the Earth’s shadow or umbra.

The Earth will be at its furthest point from the Sun on the day in question, allowing it to cast a bigger shadow.

Blood moon

And the Moon will be at its most distant point in its monthly orbit around the Earth.

Writing on the earthsky.org website, Bruce McClure said next month’s blood moon would last an hour and 43 minutes.

He said: “This lunar eclipse is primarily visible from the world’s Eastern Hemisphere – Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

“South America, at least in part, can watch the final stages of the eclipse just after sunset July 27, whereas New Zealand will catch the beginning stages of the eclipse before sunrise July 28.

“North America, most of the Arctic and much of the Pacific Ocean will miss out entirely.

“The greatest eclipse takes place at or around midnight for Madagascar and the Middle East.

“Europe and Africa view the greatest eclipse during the evening hours (sometime between sunset and midnight on July 27), whereas most of Asia, Indonesia and Australia view the greatest eclipse in the morning.

A similar phenomenon, referred to as a super blue blood moon, occurred on January 31.

On this occasion, the eclipse occurred when the moon as near its closest the Earth, making it seven percent large in apparent diameter, and 14 percent larger in area, than an average full moon.

Historical records of eclipses have been kept since ancient times, and a Syrian clay tablet records one which occurred on March 5, 1223 BC.

In 1504, while stranded on the island now known as Jamaica, Christopher Columbus reputedly used his knowledge of a forthcoming eclipse to warn an Arawak chief that his Christian God was angry because the natives had stopped supplying him and his men with provisions.

Three days later, when the moon disappeared and than appeared to bleed, the chief relented and agreed to continue helping him.

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