A total lunar eclipse — in which the Earth, sun and moon line up and create a lunar shadow — is rare. So rare, in fact, that this eclipse — the second of three full eclipses this year — will pass by fairly quickly.
But when it happens, and especially when it’s complete, it can be breathtaking.
Below, how to watch for the lunar eclipse:
The total lunar eclipse begins at 10:33 p.m. Eastern Time tonight (March 4). To see the totality, you must be in a position in North or South America where you can look up and see the earth’s shadow moving across the moon:
, and … and …
to see totality, you have to be in a location where the moon will be above the horizon, just before the total eclipse begins (but after it ends), for several hours.
Below is a list of where it’s taking place this year:
Go Live: The US East Coast and the US West Coast • February 27 Eastern Standard Time • EST • EAST • MO East Coast • MARCH 12 Eastern Standard Time • EST • EAST • ME • AUS • MARCH 19 Eastern Standard Time • EST • EAST • AB • APRIL 9 Eastern Standard Time • EST • EAST • IT • Canada • MARCH 31 Eastern Standard Time • EST • EAST • ME • PI •
What is the eclipse’s cause? Here’s the explanation, from NASA:
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is directly between the sun and the moon, blocking the sunlight that enters the moon. (A partial lunar eclipse happens when Earth’s shadow hits only part of the moon.) Light enters the moon from the sun, and from Earth, but can’t reach it because of Earth’s planet-mass and distance. Instead, it passes through Earth’s atmosphere, scattering some of the sunlight into space. Many species of insects can’t be affected by sunlight dimming. The dimming effect is seen by humans in the moon’s glow. If the sun is setting on the east coast of the United States, for example, then the moon will appear no brighter for the east coast than for an observer on the opposite coast.
Watch the eclipse unfold online through Slooh and the Virtual Telescope Project.
And here’s a fun time-lapse for eclipse watchers:
See the complete list of times and viewing areas and a schedule of events here.
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