People across North and South America, Africa, Eastern Asia, Europe, and Australia have one more reason to watch the skies tonight. They probably won’t see a fleet of extraterrestrial ships. However, if weather conditions are correct they’ll see a historic partial lunar eclipse. It will be the longest one the world has seen in nearly 600 years.
According to NASA tonight’s partial lunar eclipse be a long one. It will take nearly three and a half hours for Earth’s shadow to creep across the moon. We’ll only see a small sliver of the moon when the eclipse reaches its climax.
NASA also notes that the partial lunar eclipse isn’t a rare thing. In fact, they happen much more often than total lunar or solar eclipses. However, this one is different. The fact that it will take so long for the shadow to cover the moon makes it special.
In fact, Time and Date notes that this will be the longest eclipse on record since February of 1440. Additionally, they project that the next eclipse like this one will happen in February of 2669. The site also noted that Earth’s umbra, the darkest part of the shadow, will cover roughly 99% of the moon’s visible surface. The penumbra, the lighter part of Earth’s shadow, will cover the remainder of the moon.
Why Will the Partial Lunar Eclipse Be So Long?
Tonight’s partial lunar eclipse will last for a grand total of 6 hours and two minutes from the time the moon enters the shadow to the time it leaves it completely.
The partial lunar eclipse will take so long because the moon is almost at its apogee or farthest point from the Earth. That means that the moon travels through its orbit more slowly.
How to Watch the Eclipse
The viewing area for tonight’s partial lunar eclipse is massive. It encompasses several continents. So, it’ll be something that people across the world can share. However, it will be more difficult to view for some.
For starters, those who want the best view should get away from cities. Light pollution from densely populated areas will have a negative impact on those hoping to watch the partial lunar eclipse. Also, some sky watchers may need to set an alarm and brew an extra pot of coffee.
For those on the East Coast of the United States or those in the Eastern time zone, the eclipse starts just after 2 am. The partial lunar eclipse will reach its peak right after 4 in the morning. On the other hand, those in the Pacific time zone have it a little easier. The eclipse starts at 11 pm tonight. It’ll reach its peak at about 1 in the morning for West Coast viewers.