Everything you need to know about tomorrow’s total lunar eclipse

Early tomorrow morning, people around the globe will have the opportunity to view one of the most spectacular events in the sky, a total lunar eclipse. Here’s a rundown of how to watch this event and why total lunar eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons.”

Why its called a blood moon?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth, sun, and moon all align, with the moon passing through the shadow cast by Earth. This shadow has an inner portion with no sunlight present, called an umbra, and an outer portion with some sunlight bleeding through, called a penumbra. When the moon completely crosses Earth’s umbra, the lunar eclipse is classified as a total lunar eclipse or blood moon.

What causes the moon to take on a reddish hue is sunlight passing through the Earth’s atmosphere and reaching the moon. The more dust or clouds in our atmosphere, the more red the moon will appear from our perspective. NASA has a rather good way of putting it, saying, “it’s as if all the world’s sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the moon.”

How to watch this year’s total lunar eclipse

People viewing the total lunar eclipse on the West Coast will get the best opportunity to view this breathtaking event starting at 12:02 am Pacific time. This is when the moon will begin to enter the Earth’s penumbra, but the real fun will start at about 2:15 am when the lunar eclipse reaches the totality phase. During this phase, the moon will have entered the Earth’s umbra and will finally begin to display that distinct reddish hue for about 90 minutes.

The colored lines mark when visibility begins in different regions

If you’re planning to watch this year’s total lunar eclipse, try to be in a dark environment for the best viewing conditions, away from as much light pollution as possible. And while this is definitely an event that anyone can observe with the naked eye, tools like binoculars or a telescope will always allow you to get a better view of things.

NASA will have a stream following the lunar eclipse that you watch if you end up somewhere that doesn’t have a clear view of the Moon.

Remember that while lunar eclipses will happen in the interim, this will be the last time a total lunar eclipse occurs until March 14, 2025.

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