Set your alarm for Tuesday’s total lunar eclipse
Get ready for a total lunar moon eclipse in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Nov. 8.
This is the second total lunar eclipse visible here this year; the last one happened the night of May 15.
But unlike the May eclipse, this time we won’t see the entire event because the moon will be slipping below the western horizon just as the sun is rising. This means we will miss the tail end of the event.
However, don’t despair.
We will still see the best part of the eclipse — the time of totality when the moon is visibly darkened and colored by the earth’s shadow.
Lunar eclipse basics
A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is full and the Earth is positioned precisely between the sun and the moon, allowing the Earth’s shadow to dim the lunar surface.
There are two parts of Earth’s shadow: the penumbra, which is a dim shadow, and the umbra, which is a dark shadow.
The total stage of the eclipse occurs when the entire moon passes through the Earth’s umbra and the moon will will take on a red-orange hue, sometimes called a “blood moon.”
Tuesday’s lunar eclipse begins at 2:02 a.m. and lasts 5 hours, 54 minutes, ending at 7:56 a.m.
Because the moon will set here at 6:49 a.m., we will miss the last part of the eclipse.
Key times to watch include the onset of the partial eclipse phase starting at 3:09 a.m. and lasting 1 hour and 7 minutes, during which time, more and more of the moon will slip into darkness.
Then the main event unfolds.
Totality, which is when the moon turns red-orange, starts at 4:16 a.m., with maximum totality at exactly 4:59 a.m. — this is the coveted time to look.
Forty-two minutes later, totality ends at 5:41 a.m., making the duration of totality 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Thereafter we witness the total eclipse phase revert back to a partial lunar eclipse as less and less of the moon is darkened and the moon slowly sets.
For your viewing pleasure
No special equipment is needed to see a lunar eclipse — your eyes are just fine.
If you want a close-up view, binoculars are safe to use because unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse poses no threat to your vision.
If you want to photograph it, technology has made even smartphone cameras capable of a halfway decent shot.
If your camera is more sophisticated, try shooting maximum totality (around 5 a.m.) with this starting point: ISO 200, f/5.6, 1-4 second exposures, using a tripod.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate, or if you miss this one, you’ll have to wait a few years because the next total lunar eclipse visible here won’t be until March 13–14, 2025.