Maybe you heard form the news or read in the media about a much anticipated rare lunar eclipse set to occur this Sunday (or Monday morning if you live in Europe or Africa). Astronomers explained that the much hyped total eclipse also known as a Blood Moon won’t occur in an instant.
It will last about 1 hour and 22 minutes and should pass through a dozen of stages. Yet, professional astronomers said that not all eclipses are the same so some of the phases described below may miss in tomorrow’s celestial event. Let’s just hope that we will have a clear sky when it happens.
At 8:11 p.m. EDT/ 12:11 a.m. GMT, Earth’s penumbra will cover the moon’s surface, but don’t expect to see any changes in the moon’s disk. The Earth’s penumbra is too faint to be observed with the naked eye. Moreover, the eclipse officially begins when the moon completely immerses into the planet’s umbra, or its darker shadow cone. Astronomers explain that about 40 minutes there will be no change in the moon’s color.
At 8:50 p.m. EDT/ 12:50 a.m. GMT, the penumbra becomes slightly visible. You should see a faint shading on the moon’s left side. The shading will continue to expand and will be visible just before the moon enters our planet’s umbra.
At 9:07 EDT/ 01:07 a.m. GMT, the moon starts to enter the umbra until it is completely immersed into it. You should see a dark shadow emerge from the moon’s eastern portion. The eclipse’s phases now begin to unfurl more rapidly. As the shadow continues to engulf the moon’s face, you should see the celestial body gradually change color from pale yellow to a dark orange, red or brown. The so called ‘blood moon’ is about to appear.
At 9:55 p.m. EDT/ 1:55 a.m. GMT, three-quarters of the moon’s face are now covered by Earth’s umbra. The immersed region should light up just like heated iron starts to glow. But the moon is not completely immersed into darkness, you can still see its craters and seas with a small telescope or binoculars.
At 10:07 p.m. EDT/ 2:07 a.m. GMT, there are less than five minutes left until the eclipse’s peak. Now there’s a stunning contrast between the moon’s remaining pale glow and the rest of its surface that is colored in a dark ruddy tint. This is the so called Japanese Lantern Effect.
At 10:11 p.m. EDT/ 02:11 a.m. GMT, now the entire disk of the moon should be covered by Earth’s umbra. This is the point when the total eclipse starts. Astronomers cannot tell how the moon would look this time during totality because total lunar eclipses vary a lot. You may either see the moon completely vanish from sight or glow in a bright orange. The moon remains visible because sunlight continues to pass through Earth’s atmosphere and provide the moon with the astonishing red color.
At 10:47 p.m. EDT/ 02:47 a.m. GMT, the moon is halfway through totality. The moon’s glow is 10,000 to 100,000 times fainter than usual. You should see that the moon’s upper region has a darker color, while its lower region will look brighter with a reddish or orangey tint. Now, you will see that more stars are visible, if you observe the event far away from city lights.
At 10:47 p.m. EDT/ 02:47 a.m. GMT, the total lunar eclipse is over and the moon starts to exit Earth’s umbra and penumbra. As the moon leaves the umbra you should see the Japanese Lantern Effect once more.
At 12:27 a.m. EDT/ 4:27 a.m. GMT, the moon leaves the penumbra, while at 1:22 a.m. EDT/ 5:22 a.m. EDT the eclipse is officially over with the moon completely out of Earth’s penumbra.
Image Source: Wikimedia