While you're watching, you'll also notice that the shadow is curved , a clue ancient observers used to deduce that Earth must be spherical. Aristotle gets a lot of bad-mouthing for his geocentric universe, but he slam dunked on the Earth's shape, writing in On the Heavens :. This plot shows key events in the total lunar eclipse on January 20—21, Times are UT.
For other times, see the table at the end of this article. Two minutes before totality, only the Moon's edge still lingers in sunlight and penumbral sunlight at that! If the Earth had no atmosphere the Moon would completely disappear within its shadow. Then we might only see it with averted vision under a rural sky as a black disk silhouetted against the feeble glow of the gegenschein. We're rescued from this dire situation by sunlight that gets refracted around the circumference of the Earth and into the planet's shadow.
Because the solar rays graze Earth's limb the same way they do at sunrise and sunset, the cooler colors are scattered away by the atmosphere, leaving the warmer ones to filter in and paint the Moon in gorgeous, warm colors, the intensity of which has much to do with the state of Earth's atmosphere. If relatively free of materials like volcanic aerosols, the eclipse will be bright, but if not, the Moon can sometimes grow so dark as to be difficult to find in a light-polluted sky.
A lunar observer would see a total solar eclipse with Earth ringed by its reddened atmosphere set against the solar corona. Take a minute during totality and pretend you're an astronaut standing on Moon looking back at Earth. The first thing you'd notice is a big drop in temperature.
Partial Solar Eclipse of January 06
Now, look around and you'll see the rocks glowing smoky orange, as the vibrant red edge of Earth's blackened disk slowly covers the Sun in a total solar eclipse. Because the Moon crosses Earth's shadow well north of umbra center, the northern limb should be relatively bright throughout totality compared to the southern. Watch for subtle changes in illumination and hue as the Moon moves through the umbra, and by all means observe the event from a dark-sky site. That way you can fully appreciate the strange quietude that spreads across the land when moonlight is fully quenched, and the stars and Milky Way return in full force.
With the Moon's brilliance quenched, telescopic observers will have a chance to see the Moon occult several stars in the constellation Cancer. Both will fit in wide-field binoculars. If you want to photograph the pair, use a mm or shorter focal length, your widest lens setting, an ISO of , and exposure of 15—30 seconds. For a complete guide to lunar eclipse photography, pay a visit to Fred Espenak's Mr. Eclipse site. As totality ends, the lunar limb peeps back into filtered sunlight. The eclipse now runs in reverse as the Moon slowly extricates itself from Earth's shadow and stars go back into hiding.
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From start to finish the whole affair will last more than 5 hours, though I doubt most of us will stay till the bitter end. One night long ago, I did. When I was finally ready for bed, I took one last look and saw a glaring, white Moon shining nearly overhead as if nothing had ever happened. Locate your North American time zone in the top line of the above table.
Table of Eclipse Dates from 1994 to 2030
Eclipse predictions for each zone are listed in the columns. Click the table to see a larger version.
Bob King, thanks for this good report and charts. I too am excited about observing this total lunar eclipse in Maryland. The Moon will be well placed in Cancer, some degrees altitude for my location and near transit or transit time for total eclipse. Currently where I live we have clouds and snow showers moving through and perhaps some more this weekend.
If I have clear skies and colder nights, this total lunar eclipse should be great viewing and I will post a note back here. Thanks Bob.
EclipseWise - Eclipses During
Maybe SpaceX will do it for us. Hi Anthony, Hear, hear for getting a camera on the near side of the Moon! I was aware of that when I wrote the article but chose not to split hairs at the time. Hi Curt, We knew it would be brighter than normal but had no idea it would be exceptionally so. Thank you for sharing that information. Nearness to Perigee, Perihelion and Ecliptic are the factors that will simultaneously combine to produce the extreme lunar brightness.
Full Moon in Leo + Lunar Eclipse, January 20/21, 12222
The moments surrounding a lunar eclipse often produce the brightest Moons, since a Full Moon near the ecliptic particularly benefits from the Oppositional Flash during which lunar surface shadows are made invisible to observers. Thank you again, Curt. All good details that can add up to a little extra sparkle. Pardon the pun, but we appreciate the extra illumination you bring to the topic! At least you tried to explain the Perigee coincidence…likely to blankstares. A lunar eclipse does not need any over-hyped nicknames. I understand, and as a former news writer and web-editor I respect that sites are seeking clicks.
And maybe you have to walk that tightrope. For an example, I normally would share your link on FB for my non-astronomer friends. But I take a stand on this, and you end up losing potential clicks. Anyway, my opinion. Respectfully, Mike. Mike, Clearly, those other sites have gone overboard. I do like the full moon names only for the traditional aspect they bring to the topic. But I understand your frustration with hype.
Whatever way you choose to share the eclipse with friends and neighbors, I cheer you on. Clear skies! Well, some interesting comments about supermoon, wolf moon, blood moon, bad moon rising, etc. Lunar angular size at apogee and perigee is given. I have seen some photos showing the obvious difference when comparing the images, side by side. Hopefully, many folks will be able to enjoy this total lunar eclipse in Cancer coming soon now. Do it every time you see the moon, day or night. If you can see it, you can discern its diameter, whether it is full, a crescent or gibbous.
Make it a double blind study by noting which ones seem smaller or larger if you get that far after measuring it once or twice and then compare your results to past dates of actual apogee and perigee. The amazing measurement is one taken of a full moon that is very near the horizon when it looks as big as a basketball. Really looking forward to the eclipse. By the way, has anyone else got a Jan paper Sky and Telescope where the British Isles are missing on the eclipse visibility map p Most strange!
The British Isles are not shown on page Good news, I checked using simulation software. The Moon will be in Cancer, about 25 degrees altitude and degrees azimuth. Looks like partly to mostly clear skies later with temps down near C for the eclipse. Thanks, I thought I was going crazy! First off, thanks for this fantastic article! Every tribe, or maybe even band, across North America had their own local set of month names based on cultural values and the progression of the natural year in their area.
The whole point of these names is that they are local and non-standardized. Please be aware of this.
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