A spectacular lunar eclipse will occur on Sunday night, September 27, and will be easily visible without a telescope from anywhere in New England. This is the last total lunar eclipse visible anywhere on Earth until 2018, so if the weather looks promising, you might want to grab the binoculars and head outside to see it.
Look to the east shortly after 9:07 p.m. on Sunday night to see the beginning of the eclipse, as the Moon begins its passage through the Earth’s shadow, a process that will take several hours. The Moon will be completely immersed in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, the umbra, between 10:11 p.m. and 11:23 p.m., with maximum eclipse occurring at 10:47 pm. You might occasionally check the moon throughout the evening to note the progression of the eclipse.
Between 10:11 pm and 11:23 p.m. the Moon will be completely in the shadow of Earth, but it will still be visible! During the eclipse, some sunlight still reaches the Moon, after passing through the atmosphere of the Earth.
The atmosphere filters the sunlight, and transmits more red light than blue onto the Moon, casting a sunset-like hue onto the otherwise stark white lunar surface. The total lunar eclipse is sometimes referred to as a “blood moon” for this reason; the Moon takes on the color of thousands of sunsets around the edge of the Earth, each one casting its own ruddy glow onto the Moon. If the Earth were an airless world, its shadow would be stark black and the Moon would not be visible at all during an eclipse.
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