Pray for clear skies on the evening of September 27 (or early morning of the 28th if you live in Europe). There’s a lunar eclipse coming!
Full lunar eclipses are often called “blood moons” because the moon will appear red in the sky.
Why this blood-red color? Have you ever seen the sky after sunset light up with warm red colors? This is because molecules in our atmosphere scatter the sun’s light in different ways depending on the angle at which the sun hits the atmosphere. So, if you were standing on the moon during a lunar eclipse, in the sky you would see the sun eclipsed completely by the Earth, and around the entire rim of the Earth your would see that red “sunset glow” of the sunlight’s rays—a big ring of red twilight. That red glow from our atmosphere travels to the moon and is reflected by the moon’s surface back to us.
Who will see the eclipse? Everyone in the North America, South America, Europe, and the westernmost part of Africa.
When does it start? You’ll start seeing the Earth’s direct shadow (the umbra) cover the moon at 1:07 am Universal Time
- Eastern Time – 9:07 pm
- Central Time – 8:07 pm (in some areas the moon will not be quite up yet).
- All other U.S. Time Zones – Just go out when the moon is first visible on the Eastern horizon, because the eclipse will have already started. (Click here to find out moonrise time for your city.)
When is the peak of the eclipse? The moon will be totally eclipsed for about 1 hour 12 minutes.
- Eastern Time – 10:11-11:23 pm
- Central Time – 9:11-10:23 pm
- Mountain Time – 8:11-9:23 pm
- Pacific Time – 7:11-8:23 pm (there may still be twilight at the beginning of the eclipse)
When does it end? The last of Earth’s direct shadow will leave the moon at 3:23 am Universal Time:
- Eastern Time – 12:27 am
- Central Time – 11:27 pm
- Mountain Time – 10:27 pm
- Pacific Time – 9:27 pm
How do lunar eclipses work?
Harvest Moons and Supermoons
All lunar eclipses happen during full moons. Aside from being eclipsed, the full moon this month is special for two more reasons: (1) it is a Harvest Moon, and (2) it is a Supermoon.
The full moon that falls closest to the autumnal (fall) equinox is called the “Harvest Moon.” The night of the eclipse, it will also be a Harvest Moon. At this time of year, the angle of the moons path through the sky means it comes up a little earlier than usual and stays up longer, providing a lot of full moon light. A lot time ago, harvesters could use this moonlight to work long hours at night to bring in the crops.
It will also be a “Supermoon” that night. A Supermoon (or more technically, a perigee full moon) is when the moon is closest to the Earth. Because the path of the moon’s orbit around us is elliptical, sometimes it can be closer than other times. The full moon on September 28 will be the closest supermoon of the year (only 221,754 miles from us), making it appear slightly larger in the sky.
Throw an Eclipse Party!
Make it fun! Invite friends and family over to your house for an Eclipse party! Teach them a thing or two about eclipses in the process.