Your last chance to observe the only total lunar eclipse of the next three years is this Sunday. The next North American opportunity is scheduled for May 16, 2022.
Europe, West Africa and the Americas will witness a lunar eclipse on Sunday night. The event will begin at 9:36 pm EDT and will culminate shortly after midnight. The show will end at 2:48 am in the same area.
The curious can observe the phenomenon directly without danger. Unlike a solar eclipse, the dim light always visible does not damage our eyes.
Did you know?
Several civilizations have been interested in lunar eclipses. There are already references to the Babylonians in 750 BCE.
A recurring phenomenon
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon. In fact, the shadow of the planet obscures its satellite.
The satellite acquires its red complexion since a weak light reaches it anyway. These rays, however, pass through the atmosphere, which filters the blue light. The color of Earth’s only natural satellite will change from pale gray to dark red.
There are three types of lunar eclipses:
- Total eclipse: the Moon is completely in the shadow of the Earth;
- Partial eclipse: the satellite is only partially hidden;
- Penumbral eclipse: the moon passes through the penumbra, the lighter part of the earth’s shadow.
Lunar eclipses occur in two “seasons” about six months apart. During these seasons, the orbit of the Moon aligns with the positions of the Earth and the Sun. This allows the shadow to cross the path of the Moon. We can expect to see at least two eclipses per season, but sometimes there are three eclipses.
The next total eclipse will be visible on the west coast of the United States only in May 2021. All of the Americas will again benefit from this phenomenon in May 2022.