Total lunar eclipses, commonly known as “blood moons,” only occur during full moons when the Earth completely shields the moon from the sun. When the sun, earth, and moon are exactly aligned, light from simultaneous sunrises and sunsets around the earth reflects on the moon, briefly causing a copper-red coating on the moon’s surface. The more dust or clouds there is in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear. NASA.
From the moon, a total lunar eclipse would glow a bright red aura around Earth’s dark surface.
“It’s a wonderful reminder of this truly special connection between the Earth, moon and sun,” said Noah Petro, a scientist with the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Project at NASA.
The entire moon will glow copper red from 5:17 a.m. to 6:42 a.m. Eastern time. But lunar fanatics can wake up at 3:02 am to watch the moon enter the outer part of the Earth’s shadow, referred to as a “penumbral” lunar eclipse; this causes the moon to dim slightly. The partial eclipse, which will look like a bite has been taken from the lunar surface, is scheduled to begin at 04:09.
Anyone on the night side of the world will be able to see the eclipse. Viewers on the West Coast will be able to watch the entire lunar eclipse uninterrupted, as it will occur at midnight. East Coast residents will watch the copper moon sink to the horizon due to the early sunrise. Petro said Hawaii was the “absolute ideal place” to watch the eclipse.
“Anywhere west of the central part of the country is a slightly more important location,” Petro said. Said. “Like real estate, it’s all about location.”
The first lunar eclipse of the year bathed the moon in a rusty bronze cloak last May. Those in California and the Pacific Northwest were able to watch only the second half of the eclipse.
Geoff Chester, an astronomer and public relations officer at the U.S. Naval Observatory, told The Washington Post that there can be at least two to a maximum of four lunar eclipses in any given year. If there are two in a year, both tend to be total lunar eclipses.
“Twice a year, someone somewhere on the planet will see a total lunar eclipse if it’s a year where there are two eclipses,” Chester said.
Unlike the blinding effect of solar eclipses, no special equipment is needed to see reddish hues, but observing in a dark environment away from bright lights provides the best vision, according to NASA.
Thanks to their knowledge of the moon’s orbital patterns, astronomers can predict total lunar eclipses years in advance.
“It’s all about knowing exactly the orbit of the moon, with which we can predict eclipses of the sun and moon down to the minute,” Petro told The Post.
While scientists can predict exactly when different phases of the eclipse will occur, there’s one thing they can’t predict: its color. The shade of total lunar eclipses ranges from eclipse to eclipse, from coppery gold to deep red.
“We just don’t know exactly from eclipse to eclipse. [what color] we will get it in integrity time. That adds an element of fun to it,” said Chester.
This will be the last time residents of the United States will be able to see a fully painted moon by May 14, 2025. But those who miss this view will be able to see partial and semi-shaded lunar eclipses between now and then.
A faint penumbra lunar eclipse is scheduled for May 5 and May 6 next year, and a partial lunar eclipse next October. 28, but none of these eclipses cause the moon to appear red.
“Every eclipse is special because they’re all great opportunities to go out and look at our closest neighbor in space, the moon,” Petro said. Said.
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