Scheduled to take on a copper-red hue in the sky this Tuesday, November 8, the full moon will kick off Election Day with an early morning event of its own – a total lunar eclipse.
The second of the year, the eclipse will begin at 3:02 a.m. ET, with the moon initially darkening during the first hour, and end at 8:50 a.m. ET.
At totality, the stage at which the entire moon is in Earth’s shadow, the moon will take on a dark reddish hue, which is why a total eclipse is also called a blood moon. Skywatchers will be able to see the startling effect starting at 5:17 a.m. ET, according to NASA.
“They’re not that common, so it’s always nice to contact them when you can,” said Dr. Alphonse Sterling, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “I think these are great learning devices for people who want to get into astronomy.”
A total lunar eclipse occurs approximately once every 1.5 years on average, with the next total lunar eclipse not occurring until March 14, 2025 – although partial and penumbral lunar eclipses will continue to occur in the meantime. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves through Earth’s outer shadow, or penumbra, so the visual effect is more subtle.
Those watching the total lunar eclipse will be able to see the curvature of the Earth’s shadow as it begins to slowly swallow the moon completely. At least some of the phenomenon will be visible throughout eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific, North America and Central America, according to NASA.
Every first full moon in November is called the Beaver Moon in honor of the semi-aquatic rodents. This is the time of year when beavers begin to take shelter after storing their food for the winter, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The moon will peak at 6:02 a.m. ET, the almanac notes.
Visualization of a lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow. Due to this arrangement, unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse can be enjoyed from anywhere the moon is present overnight. Nearby stars are usually obscured by the moon’s glow, but the moon will be dim enough for the duration of the eclipse for them to be revealed, according to Sterling.
“With solar eclipses you have to be in the right place, but with lunar eclipses it’s not as location-sensitive,” Sterling said.
“All half of the Earth that is at night during the period when the moon is in shadow can see it. So basically it’s available to half the world.”
The same phenomenon that colors skies blue and sunsets red is what causes the moon to turn rusty red during a lunar eclipse, according to NASA. During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight, letting in red, orange, and yellow light and scattering blue light that is typically seen with the moon.
In the eastern United States and Canada, the moon will set before the eclipse ends, so it’s best to look toward the western horizon to see its entirety. Watching a solar eclipse requires eye protection, but you can safely enjoy a lunar eclipse without any equipment – although your eyesight can be improved with binoculars.
“It’s a very good thing about lunar eclipses, in particular. You really don’t need anything but your eyes. The moon is a bright object, so you don’t need a place particularly dark to view the event,” Sterling said. “And the shades, the beautiful red color that you see during the eclipse, you can see anywhere, even in the middle of a city.”
Events remaining in 2022
After the Beaver Blood Moon, this year has another full moon event, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The Cold Moon occurs on December 7.
As for meteor showers, you can currently see the Southern Taurids in the night sky. Catch the peak of these upcoming meteor shower events later this year, according to EarthSky’s 2022 meteor shower guide:
• Northern Taurids: November 12
• Leonids: 17 and 18 November
• Geminids: December 13 and 14
• Ursids: December 22 and 23
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