A total lunar eclipse will hit the night sky later this week, providing more thrill than usual for stargazers across North and South America.
The celestial action appears on Sunday night into Monday morning, with the Moon bathed in the red and orange hues reflective of Earth’s sunset and sunrise for about an hour and a half, one of the longest totalities of the decade. This will be the first so-called Blood Moon in a year.
Observers in the eastern half of North America and throughout Central and South America will have prime seats for the entire show, weather permitting. Partial phases of the eclipse will be visible across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Left: Alaska, Asia and Australia.
“This is really an eclipse for America,” said NASA’s Noah Petro, a planetary geologist who specializes in the Moon. “It’s going to be a treat.”
All you need is “patience and eyeballs,” he said.
A total eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the Moon and the Sun and casts a shadow on our stable, cosmic companion. The Moon will be 362,000 kilometers (225,000 mi) away at the peak of the eclipse – around midnight on the US East Coast.
“It’s a gradual, slow, wonderful phenomenon that as long as it’s clear where you are, you get to see it,” Petro said.
If not, NASA will provide livestreams of the eclipse from various locations; So will the Slooh network of observatories.
Another long total lunar eclipse will occur in November, with Africa and Europe again destined for it, but not the Americas. Then the next one is not until 2025.
Launched last fall, NASA’s asteroid-seeking Lucy spacecraft will image this weekend’s event from 103 million kilometers (64 million miles) away, as ground controllers continue their efforts to fix loose solar panels .
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, a geologist, plans to set her alarm clock early on the International Space Station.
“Hopefully, we can get up on time and be in the right place at the right time to have a good glimpse,” she told the Associated Press earlier this week.