How To Watch The Total Lunar Eclipse Next Week


After the very pretty partial Solar Eclipse last week, we are getting a total lunar eclipse, as the eclipses come in pairs. Our natural satellite will cross into the shadow of the Earth, darkening it first before assuming the characteristic crimson color of this type of eclipse.


Billions of people will be able to see it, weather permitting. The portion of the planet excluded will be Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and all of Antarctica – however, people in North America, East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and across the Pacific Ocean will have a fantastic view of the phenomenon.


The event will begin at 8:02 UTC on November 8, with the Moon entering the penumbra of the Earth. Totality will begin over two hours later and it will last about 85 minutes. Unlike total solar eclipses that are over in a matter of minutes, lunar eclipses are a more prolonged affair – and in this one, the Moon will also occult the planet Uranus, coincidentally located along the lunar path in the sky, this month.


The most fascinating fact about total lunar eclipses is that, while in complete shadow, the Moon becomes red. The reason for this is the same as why sunsets and sunrises are red: The atmosphere filters and scatters sunlight in a peculiar way. Blue light is scattered less than red, so when the Sun is high in the sky, the sky appears blue. When the Sun is low on the horizon, we get the redder tones typical of dawn and dusk.


The weird scattering affects the color of the Earth's shadow a little bit. While the atmosphere is just a slither of filtered light going through it, the Earth casts a blood-colored shadow. With other light presents, you can’t tell. So during the partial phases of a lunar eclipse, the shadow will appear black – but once the Moon is almost completely covered, the redness comes through, and we can’t tell exactly at which point that will happen.


If the sky above you is cloudy or you’re not where the eclipse is visible, worry not. You can watch it online with our friends at the Virtual Telescope project.

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