Lunar Eclipse

A total lunar eclipse is perfectly timed for the East Coast of the US on the evening of Wed. Feb. 20. It starts at sundown, but the part you can easily see, the umbral shadow, hits the moon starting at 8:43 eastern, and totality starts at 10:01 eastern. Totality will last about 50 minutes, and the moon starts to reemerge into the sunlight starting about 10:50. By 12:08 am on the 21st (again, eastern), the moon in full again, but still in the penumbral shadow. From the point of view of an observer on the moon, you’d see the Sun only partially covered by the Earth, until about 1:15 am, when it’s all over.

It’s always a guessing game about how dark the eclipse will be, because it depends on the clarity of the Earth’s atmosphere, which is affected by clouds and even more by volcanos. I do very much recall the Dec. 1963 lunar eclipse (my parents took my brothers, sister and I Christmas shopping that evening). The moon absolutely disappeared that night. More often than not, plenty of sunlight leaks around the Earth to illuminate the moon ruddy red or brown.


During totality, the Moon’s northern edge will appear darker than its southern side. This disparity occurs because the Moon’s northern limb will lie closer to the center of Earth’s shadow.


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