A partial lunar eclipse will be visible throughout most of North and South America on Sunday evening, with a better view possible from Mexico and the Pacific coast of California.
Unfortunately, skywatchers living in Nebraska, Iowa, New Mexico, the Dakotas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware will miss out on the lunar spectacle.
The partial eclipse will begin at 6:43 p.m. CDT Sunday, and the darkening of the moon will take about 90 minutes. At 8:13 p.m. CDT, the moon will enter the Earth’s shadow for a total eclipse beginning, but the partial eclipse should be visible for two more hours after the beginning of the total eclipse.
After its initial passage through the Earth’s shadow, the moon will come out of the dark that is created by Earth’s shadow, look back toward us, and enter the light portion of the moon called the new moon phase.
NASA said the temporary occultation of the new moon phase will be known as a partial eclipse of the new moon. Partial eclipses are also sometimes called a penumbral lunar eclipse.
“Temperatures of last minute eclipsing events are much cooler than the usual night temperature, and the phenomenon is very pleasant when you are near the moon or see totality in the middle of it,” said astronomer Jim Tague of NASA.
“The moon appears to be glowing a lighter-colored hue, which is caused by the difference in temperature between the atmosphere of Earth and that of the moon during the eclipse phase. The red-white color we see on the moon is called aeolian phoretic, and this beautiful coloration occurs when the Earth’s atmosphere scatters light from the moon,” he added.
Skywatchers don’t need an astronomical equipment such as a telescope to see this event because the impact of the moon’s shadow is so small, Tague said. Instead, they can see the effects of this phenomenon through magnifying glasses or a small camera.
What is a lunar eclipse?
First, a little history: According to NASA, a lunar eclipse is when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon, blocking out as much sunlight as possible to cast a shadow on the moon. It is believed to occur only when the earth lines up between the sun and the moon.
During a lunar eclipse, the moon does not change brightness but is slowly darkened by the earth’s atmosphere as it passes through the middle of the sun’s shadow. A lunar eclipse is best seen from the North or South American continents, or from Africa and Europe.
The last total lunar eclipse took place on July 10, 2014. The next total lunar eclipse is set for April 4, 2018. The next total lunar eclipse will not be visible in North America.
Lunar eclipses occur in pairs. After two eclipses in a row, the earth resumes its normally parallel path between the sun and the moon. The next lunar eclipse pairs are dates between July 10 and 11, 2017.
The next partial lunar eclipse, in contrast, will occur on Sept. 28, 2019. But there will be no extra-long eclipse like the total lunar eclipse seen on April 16, 2014.
Lunar eclipses occur about once a year as the Earth and the moon travel within one another.