The total lunar eclipse of November 8th favors western North America, but the whole continent will enjoy much of the spectacle, provided skies are clear.
Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor, Sky & Telescope
+1 617-500-6793 ×22100, [email protected]
Gary Seronik, Consulting Editor, Sky & Telescope
Susanna Kohler, Communications Manager and Press Officer, American Astronomical Society
+1 202-328-2010 ×127, [email protected]
Note to Editors/Producers: This release is accompanied by high-quality graphics; see the end of this release for the images and links to download.
Viewers in North America, Central America, most of South America, the Pacific Ocean, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia will see the Moon darken and turn a reddish hue in the wee hours of Tuesday November 8th. “Make sure you don’t miss the November 8th event, for it’s the last total lunar eclipse visible anywhere until mid-March 2025,” says Diana Hannikainen (pronounced HUHN-ih-KY-nen), Observing Editor at Sky & Telescope.
What to Look For — and When
The Moon traverses the northern half of Earth’s shadow, with totality predicted to last 86 minutes. Mid-eclipse happens on November 8th at 10:59 Universal Time (UT), around six days before apogee, when the Moon is farthest from Earth in its orbit. As a result, during the eclipse, the Moon will appear 7% smaller than it does when it’s at perigee (closest to Earth), but the difference is imperceptible. The November 8th eclipse will be a bit brighter than the one this past May — especially in the Moon's northern half — since the Moon doesn’t glide as closely to the dark center of Earth’s shadow.
There are several delightful extras viewers can look out for while admiring the eclipse. During totality, Earth’s shadow dims the Moon sufficiently for stars to be visible right up to its edge. In addition, Uranus reaches opposition just a day after the eclipse, when it’s directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and at its closest and brightest. And on eclipse night the distant planet will be upper left of the red-hued Moon — binoculars will reveal the planet’s pale disk. The farther west you are, the smaller the gap between planet and Moon. Also, the Northern and Southern Taurid meteor showers peak around this time, so eclipse-watchers might be treated to a few meteors streaking across the night sky.
All stages of the eclipse occur simultaneously for everyone, but not everyone will see the full eclipse. Weather permitting, observers in western North America will witness the entirety of the event on the morning of November 8th, with the partial eclipse phase beginning an hour or so after midnight. In Hawai‘i, the totally eclipsed Moon will be directly overhead. Viewers in the central parts of the continent will see all of totality and most of the final partial phases, while those on the East Coast can watch the Sun rise as totality ends.
South America will witness the initial phases of the eclipse up to totality, while Central America can enjoy the show a bit longer and see it through the total phase. The eclipse is an early evening event in central and eastern Asia, Australia, and New Zealand, and the Moon rises either during the earlier partial phases or during totality.
The actual clock times of the eclipse depend on your time zone. See the table below and diagrams at the end for times of key phases of the lunar eclipse:
|Penumbra first visible?||~8:45||~4:45 a.m.||~3:45 a.m.||~2:45 a.m.||~1:45 a.m.||~12:45 a.m.||~11:45 p.m.*||~10:45 p.m.*|
|Partial eclipse begins||9:09||5:09 a.m.||4:09 a.m.||3:09 a.m.||2:09 a.m.||1:09 a.m.||12:09 a.m.||11:09 p.m.*|
|Total eclipse beings||10:16||6:16 a.m.||5:16 a.m.||4:16 a.m.||3:16 a.m.||2:16 a.m.||1:16 a.m.||12:16 a.m.|
|Mid-eclipse||10:59||6:59 a.m.||5:59 a.m.||4:59 a.m.||3:59 a.m.||2:59 a.m.||1:59 a.m.||12:59 a.m.|
|Total eclipse ends||11:42||—||6:42 a.m.||5:42 a.m.||4:42 a.m.||3:42 a.m.||2:42 a.m.||1:42 a.m.|
|Partial eclipse ends||12:49||—||—||6:49 a.m.||5:49 a.m.||4:49 a.m.||3:49 a.m.||2:49 a.m.|
|Penumbra last visible?||~13:15||—||—||—||—||~5:15 a.m.||~4:15 a.m.||~3:15 a.m.|
* Indicates November 7th.
Mechanics of a Lunar Eclipse
“A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth, and a full Moon form a near-perfect lineup in space, in what is known as syzygy,” says Hannikainen. The Moon slides into Earth’s shadow, gradually darkening, until the entire lunar disk turns from silvery grey to an eerie dim orange or red. Then events unfold in reverse order, until the Moon returns to full brilliance. The whole process for the November 8th eclipse will take nearly six hours. You only need your eyes to see the drama unfold, but binoculars or a backyard telescope will give a much-enhanced view.
The events that happen during a total lunar eclipse are more complex and interesting than many people realize. The event has five stages, each with different things to watch.
(1) The Moon's leading edge enters the pale outer fringe of Earth’s shadow: the penumbra. You probably won’t notice anything until the Moon is about halfway across the penumbra.
Watch for a slight darkening on the Moon’s left side as seen from North America. The penumbral shading becomes stronger as the Moon moves deeper in.
The penumbra is the region where an astronaut standing on the Moon would see Earth covering only part of the Sun's face.
(2) The Moon’s leading edge enters the umbra, the cone of Earth’s shadow within which the Sun’s completely hidden. You should notice a dramatic darkening on the leading edge of the lunar disk. With a telescope, you can watch the edge of the umbra slowly engulfing one lunar feature after another, as the entire sky begins to grow darker.
(3) The trailing edge of the Moon slips into the umbra for the beginning of total eclipse. But the Moon won't black out completely: It's sure to glow some shade of intense orange or red.
Why is this? The Earth’s atmosphere scatters and bends (refracts) sunlight that skims its edges, diverting some of it onto the eclipsed Moon. If you were on the Moon during a lunar eclipse, you’d see the Sun hidden by a dark Earth rimmed with the reddish light of all the sunrises and sunsets ringing the world at that moment.
The red umbral glow can be quite different from one eclipse to the next. Two main factors affect its brightness and hue. The first is simply how deeply the Moon goes into the umbra as it passes through; the center of the umbra is darker than its edges. The other factor is the state of Earth’s atmosphere. If a major volcanic eruption has recently polluted the stratosphere with thin global haze, a lunar eclipse can be dark red, ashen brown, or occasionally almost black.
In addition, blue light is refracted through Earth’s clear, ozone-rich upper atmosphere above the thicker layers that produce the red sunrise-sunset colors. This ozone-blue light tints the Moon also, especially near the umbra’s edge. You’ll need binoculars or a telescope to see this effect.
(4) As the Moon progresses along its orbit, events replay in reverse order. The Moon’s edge re-emerges into sunlight, ending totality and beginning a partial eclipse again.
(5) When all of the Moon escapes the umbra, only the last, penumbral shading is left. Some time later, nothing unusual remains.
Read more on this event at Sky & Telescope’s website.
Read all about the Danjon scale and other things to look for during the eclipse.
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