Don’t Miss the Total Lunar Eclipse: What You Need To Know

The appearance of the Moon during the November 2022 total lunar eclipse. Includes annotations of the contact times and various eclipse statistics. All phases of a lunar eclipse are safe to view, both with your naked eye and an unfiltered telescope. Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

What’s special about November’s lunar eclipse?

The last total lunar eclipse for three years will occur during the early morning hours of November 8, 2022. After this, the next total lunar eclipse will not occur until March 14, 2025. However, we will continue to see partial and penumbral lunar eclipses during that time.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow. In a total lunar eclipse, the entire Moon falls within the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, called the umbra. When the Moon is within the umbra, it will turn a reddish hue. Because of this phenomenon, lunar eclipses are sometimes called “Blood Moons.”

The Moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times at various stages of the eclipse. Times are shown in Eastern Standard Time (EST). Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio

How can I observe the eclipse?

Although binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view and the red color, you don’t need any special equipment to observe a lunar eclipse. A dark environment away from bright lights makes for the best viewing conditions.

Totality — the stage of the eclipse where the Moon is entirely in Earth’s shadow —will be visible across North and Central America and in Ecuador, Colombia, and western portions of Venezuela and Peru. In Puerto Rico, the Moon sets just after totality begins. The eclipse is also visible in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. Viewers in Alaska and Hawaii will have the opportunity to see every stage of the eclipse.

This animated map shows where the November 8, 2022, lunar eclipse is visible. Contours mark the edge of the visibility region at eclipse contact times. The map is centered on 168°57’W, the sublunar longitude at mid-eclipse. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio

What if it’s cloudy or I’m not in the viewing region?

Numerous organizations and individuals around the globe present live streams and videos of lunar eclipses. An online search will provide multiple options for viewing from your computer screen. You can also visit NASA’s Dial-a-Moon for a visualization of the eclipse.

What can I expect to observe?

UTC EST PST Milestone What’s Happening?
8:02 3:02 a.m. 12:02 a.m. Penumbral eclipse begins The Moon enters the Earth’s penumbra, the outer part of the shadow. The Moon begins to dim, but the effect is quite subtle.
9:09 4:09 a.m. 1:09 a.m. Partial eclipse begins The Moon begins to enter Earth’s umbra and the partial eclipse begins. To the naked eye, as the Moon moves into the umbra, it looks like a bite is being taken out of the lunar disk. The part of the Moon inside the umbra will appear very dark.
10:17 5:17 a.m. 2:17 a.m. Totality begins The entire Moon is now in the Earth’s umbra. The Moon will turn a coppery-red. Try binoculars or a telescope for a better view. If you want to take a photo, use a camera on a tripod with exposures of at least several seconds.
11:42 6:42 a.m. 3:42 a.m. Totality ends As the Moon exits Earth’s umbra, the red color fades. It will look as if a bite is being taken out of the opposite side of the lunar disk as before.
12:49 — Moon has set 4:49 a.m. Partial eclipse ends The whole Moon is in Earth’s penumbra, but again, the dimming is subtle.
13:50 — Moon has set 5:50 a.m. Penumbral eclipse ends The eclipse is over.

What else can I see tonight?

The Moon will be in the constellation Aries. The planet Uranus will be about 3 degrees (six Moon widths) north of the Moon during totality. Normally it is a bit too dim to see with the naked eye, but binoculars and small telescopes reveal it as a small, mint-green dot. Find more skywatching tips here and here.

Earth’s Atmosphere Scatters Sunlight During Lunar Eclipse

During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through, turning our Moon red. Note: This image is not to scale. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio

Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse?

The Moon turns red during a lunar eclipse due to Rayleigh scattering, the same phenomenon that makes our sky blue and our sunsets red. Light travels in waves, and different colors of light have different physical properties. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and is scattered more easily by particles in Earth’s atmosphere than red light, which has a longer wavelength.

Artist’s depiction of the Earth during a lunar eclipse from the surface of the Moon. When viewed from the Moon, as in this animation, the Earth hides the Sun. A red ring, the sum of all Earth’s sunrises and sunsets, lines the Earth’s limb and casts a ruddy light on the lunar landscape. With the darkness of the eclipse, the stars come out. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio

Red light, on the other hand, travels more directly through the atmosphere. When the Sun is overhead, we see blue light throughout the sky. But when the Sun is setting, sunlight must pass through more atmosphere and travel farther before reaching our eyes. The blue light from the Sun scatters away, and longer-wavelength red, orange, and yellow light pass through.

During a lunar eclipse, the Moon turns red because the only sunlight reaching the Moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere. The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear. It’s as if all the world’s sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the Moon.

1 Comment on "Don’t Miss the Total Lunar Eclipse: What You Need To Know"

  1. Cloud cover blocked the event St Louis MO

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