Super-Long Lunar Eclipse Today!

Schematic diagram of the shadow cast by the Earth. Within the central umbra shadow, the Moon is totally shielded from direct illumination by the Sun. In contrast, within the penumbra shadow, only a portion of sunlight is blocked.

Schematic diagram of the shadow cast by the Earth. Within the central umbra shadow, the Moon is totally shielded from direct illumination by the Sun. In contrast, within the penumbra shadow, only a portion of sunlight is blocked.

The longest lunar eclipse in a decade is going to happen later today, but unfortunately it won’t be visible in North America. If you’re in other parts of the Northern Hemisphere, though, you can spend nearly two hours viewing it. National Geographic has the details:

Wednesday night the full moon will plunge into the longest and deepest total lunar eclipse in more than a decade.

Sky-watchers across most of the Eastern Hemisphere will be able to watch the lunar disc turn stunning shades of orange and red as the moon becomes engulfed within the darkest part of Earth’s shadow for almost two hours.

“The path that the moon is taking through Earth’s shadow is almost directly through [the shadow’s] center, making for the longest possible path and so the longest duration,” said Ben Burress, staff astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California.

“The last eclipse that was as long as this one was in 2000, while the next won’t be until 2018, so this makes it a somewhat rare event.”

Lunar Eclipse to Last a Hundred-Plus Minutes

Because of the tilt of the moon’s orbit around Earth, the moon usually passes slightly above or below Earth’s cone-shaped shadow, so no lunar eclipse occurs.

Sometimes, however, the geometry is just right for the moon to cross Earth’s orbital plane—always during a full moon. As all three bodies line up, the moon passes through Earth’s shadow and we see a lunar eclipse.

Partial eclipses happen when the moon grazes Earth’s shadow, while total eclipses occur when the whole moon passes through the shadow.

On June 15 Earth’s shadow will start to darken the moon around 18:22 universal time, or UT (2:22 p.m. eastern time).

The total lunar eclipse will begin at 19:22 UT and will last for more than a hundred minutes. The deepest part of the eclipse will occur at 20:12 UT, as the moon plunges into the umbra, the dark center of our planet’s shadow.

The last hint of Earth’s shadow will slip off the moon around 22:02 UT…

[continues at National Geographic]

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  • SF2K01

    Awesome, I’m gonna be watching this.

  • Anonymous

    Awesome, I’m gonna be watching this.

  • http://strictlyapathy.comoj.com SoulArbiter

    Well if you miss this one, you can also wait till December.

  • http://strictlyapathy.comoj.com/ SoulArbiter

    Well if you miss this one, you can also wait till December.

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