A rare blue moon lights up the sky tonight, so make sure you can see it

Moon phases
Keep your cameras trained on the sky tonight.

A blue moon doesn't happen often - hence the phrase associated with it - but tonight there'll be a second full moon in the space of a month. It's the first such event since 2012 and the next one won't happen until 2018.

Despite the name, the moon isn't actually going to turn blue: it's going to look as white and grey as it always does. Still, it's an exciting moment for astronomers and anyone interested in the galaxies around us.

Tonight's moon is also a 'supermoon', which is one that's especially close to Earth - as a result it should be bigger and brighter than normal, so get your cameras, telescopes and Instagram filters charged and ready.

Catching the moon

Your biggest problem might be cloud cover, which is going to be worse in the north of the UK according to the forecast. The south of the country should get clear skies. Of course, the further away you are from civilization, and the higher up, the better.

Getting a decent picture on a smartphone is pretty much impossible unless you're going to rig it up to a telescope and some special filters. Here's one expert setup you might want to try and emulate.

The key to getting a good shot is using a DSLR and a powerful telephoto lens with a generous zoom range - if you don't have one, find someone who does and ask to borrow it or let our guide help you. At the kind of zoom levels we're talking about, you'll also need a tripod or a very steady hand. Try reducing the exposure a little more than normal to pick out as many of the moon's details as possible and focus to infinity.

Tonight also marks the start of the meteor season for Britain's space-gazers, so you may spot a shooting star or two over the next few weeks if you venture outside during the evening. Lots of great reasons to get your camera gear ready.

Image courtesy of Spirit-Fire/Flickr (CC Commons)

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.