Total lunar eclipse Blood moon on Tuesday: when and where to watch
During the early hours on Tuesday, darkness will slide over the face of the moon before turning a deep blood red. No, it’s not an omen of Election Day – it’s one of the most eye-catching sights in the night sky.
Anyone awake in the United States will sit in the front row as the sun, Earth and moon line up, causing the moon to pass through Earth’s shadow during the last total lunar eclipse until 2025.
“To me, the most important thing about a lunar eclipse is that it gives you a sense of three-dimensional geometry that you rarely get in space — one sphere passes through the shadow of another,” said Bruce Betts, the chief scientist at Planetary Society.
Here’s what you need to know about watching the solar eclipse.
When and where to watch the solar eclipse
In North America, observers on the west coast get the best view. At 12:02 p.m. Pacific Time, the moon will enter the outermost portion of Earth’s shadow and dim a tiny bit. But the total phase of the eclipse — the real star of the show — doesn’t begin until 2:16 a.m. That phase is called totality, when the moon enters the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow and shines a deep blood-red hue. Totality lasts about 90 minutes to 3:41 a.m., and by 5:56 a.m. the moon will have its familiar silvery hue.
“The big problem here will be that it’s before Election Day,” said Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at the University of San Francisco. “I joke that a lot of people are so nervous about Election Day this year that they might be up all night looking at it.”
Viewers on the East Coast, on the other hand, will have to set their alarms early. While they won’t be able to view the full eclipse, they will be able to capture the totality, which will run from 5:16 a.m. Eastern Time to 6:41 a.m., roughly when the moon sets over the most northeastern parts of the United States. . Early risers should look to the northwest horizon to catch the ruby moon.
For those in the Midwest, totality will turn the moon red from 4:16 a.m. Central Time to 5:41 a.m. And for those in the Rocky Mountains, totality will happen an hour early.
Outside of North and Central America, sky watchers can observe the solar eclipse in East Asia and Australia, where it will occur in the early evening after moonrise. NASAs visibility map provides further details.
Wherever you are and whatever phase of the eclipse occurs, it’s safe to watch with your naked eyes.
What makes a blood moon?
It may come as a surprise that the moon doesn’t just darken when it enters Earth’s shadow. That’s because moonlight is usually just reflected sunlight. And while most of that sunlight is blocked during a lunar eclipse, some of it wraps around the edges of our planet — the edges that experience sunrise and sunset at that time. That filters out the shorter, bluer wavelengths and only allows redder, longer wavelengths to hit the moon.
“The romantic way of looking at it is that it’s like seeing all the sunsets and sunrises on Earth at once,” said Dr. bets.
That view is drastically different from that of some of our ancestors. “For many cultures, the disappearance of the moon was seen as a time of danger, chaos,” said Shanil Virani, an astronomer at George Washington University.
For example, the Incas believed that a jaguar attacked the moon during a solar eclipse. The Mesopotamians saw it as an attack on their king. In ancient Hindu mythology, a demon swallowed the moon.
But not all lunar eclipses result in the deep red that led to the nickname “blood moon”. Just as the intensity of a sunrise or sunset can vary from day to day, so can the colors of an eclipse. It is largely dependent on particles in our planet’s atmosphere. Smoke from wildfires or volcanic dust can deepen the red hues of a sunset, and they can also affect the hue of the eclipsed moon. But if the atmosphere is particularly bright during a lunar eclipse, more light will come through, creating a brighter red moon, perhaps even a ruddy orange.
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