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The full moon, which will turn a coppery-red hue in the sky this Tuesday, November 8, will kick off Election Day with an early morning event of its own: a total lunar eclipse.
On the second of the year, the eclipse will begin at 3:02 am ET, with the moon initially dimming for the first hour, and will end at 8:50 am ET.
At totality, the stage where the entire moon will be in the shadow of the Earth, the moon will turn a dark reddish hue, which is why a total eclipse is also called a blood moon. Sky watchers will be able to see the amazing effect beginning at 5:17 a.m. ET, according to nasa.
“They’re not that common, so it’s always good to get hold of them when you can,” said Dr. Alphonse Sterling, an astrophysicist at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. “I think they are great learning devices for people who want to get started in astronomy.”
A total lunar eclipse occurs about once every year and a half on average, and the next total lunar eclipse won’t take place until March 14, 2025, although penumbral and partial lunar eclipses will continue to occur in the meantime. A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves through Earth’s outer shadow, or penumbra, so the visual effect is more subtle.
Those who watch the total lunar eclipse will be able to see the curvature of Earth’s shadow as it slowly begins to swallow the moon whole. At least part of the phenomenon will be visible in East Asia, Australia, the Pacific, North America and Central America, according to nasa.
Every first full moon in November is called the Beaver Moon in honor of the semi-aquatic rodents. This is the time of year that beavers begin to hunker down after storing their food for the winter, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The moon will be at its brightest at 6:02 a.m. ET, the almanac notes.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon line up so that the moon passes into Earth’s shadow. Due to this arrangement, unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse can be enjoyed from anywhere the moon is present at night. Nearby stars are usually obscured by the moon’s brightness, but the moon will dim enough during the eclipse for them to reveal themselves, according to Sterling.
“With solar eclipses, you have to be in the right place, but for lunar eclipses, it’s not as sensitive to location,” Sterling said.
“The entire half of the earth that is at night during the period when the moon falls into shadow can see it. Basically, it’s available to half the world.”
The same phenomenon that colors the sky blue and sunsets red is what causes the moon to turn rusty red during a lunar eclipse, according to NASA. During a lunar eclipse, Earth’s atmosphere scatters sunlight, allowing red, orange, and yellow light to pass through, and scattering blue light normally seen with the moon.
In the eastern United States and Canada, the moon will set before the eclipse ends, so it’s best to look toward the western horizon to see it in its entirety. Viewing a solar eclipse requires eye protection, but you can safely enjoy a lunar eclipse without any equipment, although your eyesight can be improved with binoculars.
“This is a really good thing about lunar eclipses, in particular. You really don’t need anything except your eyes. The moon is a bright object, so you don’t need a particularly dark place to see the event,” Sterling said. “And the hues, the beautiful red color that you see during the eclipse, you can see it anywhere, even in the middle of a city.”
After the beaver blood moon, this year has one more full moon event, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The cold moon takes place on December 7.
As for the meteor showers, right now you can see the Southern Taurids in the night sky. See the peak of these upcoming meteor shower events later this year, according to EarthSky 2022 Meteor Shower Guide:
• Northern Taurids: November 12
• Leonidas: November 17-18
• Geminids: December 13 and 14
• Ursids: December 22-23