Shetland was the only place in the UK where it was theoretically possible to see today’s total lunar eclipse. I say “theoretically possible” because, here in Lerwick there was just 4 minutes from moonrise to end of totality and keen moon observers will know that is a challenge in ideal conditions – i.e. dark; but sunset was at almost exactly the same time so it was still quite light. One could have gained a few minutes by travelling to Shetland’s northernmost point (both earlier moonrise and earlier sunset) and I would have considered doing that but for one other factor – rain and cloud, both of which were in plentiful supply during the day! However, forecasters were suggesting a “50% chance” of a clear view – a suggestion that was heavily reported by local and national media.
I set up my camera in a place just outside town with a view of the horizon down to sea level in good time but wasn’t optimistic – it was still fairly light but, more importantly, there was quite thick cloud on the horizon – though there was a patch of blue sky above. Sure enough, from just before three till well after there was no sign of the moon – so I didn’t see totality. However, about 3:20 PM I caught a tiny glimpse of the moon and, over the next half-hour or so I was given increasingly good views of the advancing partial lunar eclipse until it again disappeared, first behind hazy clouds and then a more dense blanket, rapidly followed by rain. Not a patch on last year’s total lunar eclipse but nonetheless a very nice sight.