It's an eclipse weekend, you guys, so get your eyeballs ready
Make room in your plans, Gigglers: there’s going to be a total lunar eclipse on Saturday, and it’s going to be epic.
Starting at 7:57 a.m. EST, the eclipse will be the third in an ongoing series of four, known as a tetrad. Unlike last month’s solar eclipse, which could only be seen from a small area of the North Atlantic, this one will be visible from basically all of the Earth’s right hemisphere (which includes us). At an estimated four minutes and 43 seconds, it will also be the shortest eclipse we’ve had since 1529, which just makes it extra special. (The next one to have a shorter span of totality won’t happen until 2155, so none of us will be around to see it — unless they invent a way for us to live forever in the interim, in which case, we’re calling it that 200-somethings will be the new 20-somethings.)
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes behind the Earth and into its shadow (or umbra), and both become perfectly aligned with the sun. The Earth is then in the middle of this sun, Earth, moon line, and is also why they can only happen during a full moon and why an eclipse is so dependent on the lunar orbital path. It’s basically us seeing the Earth on the moon, if that makes sense. Lunar eclipses are often referred to as “Blood Moons,” due to the deep reddish color the moon takes on when entering the Earth’s umbra, combined with all the dust in the Earth’s atmosphere clouding our view. This weekend’s eclipse, in particular, is estimated to be a particularly bright one — which just means it’ll be extra creepy and awesome.
According to USA Today, “Skywatchers in the western third of the U.S. will get to see a total eclipse, while folks in the central and eastern U.S. will only see a partial eclipse before the moon sets.” It’s going to be a “Pacific Ocean spectacle,” and therefore best seen from Australia, Japan, Hawaii, Russia and Alaska; but the rest of us western hemisphere folk can still catch a glimpse.
This weekend’s eclipse will be gorgeous and once-in-a-lifetime, and we expect it will leave us in awe of just how incredible the universe truly is (which is definitely not how I would describe my typical Saturday morning). You can even stream the eclipse on Slooh if you want to get a better look at it. And in case you can’t make it to this weekend’s lunar spectacle at all, the last eclipse of the tetrad will be September 28, 2015 — if you want to make some moon plans in advance.
Happy Blood Moon, Gigglers!