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Watch the Blood Moon

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blood-moon-guian-bolisay-flickr

In case you’ve missed it, we’re in the midst of a celestial tetrad, a rare occurrence of four total lunar eclipses in a row.  Lunar eclipses occur when earth’s shadow blocks the moon from the sun.  There are three types: total, partial, and penumbral, and the rarest of most mystifying is definitely the total eclipse.

Aside from the total lunar eclipse, which should provide some picturesque moments on it’s own, this particular night will also yield an extremely rare cosmic illusion called a selenelion. This phenomenon is a rare sight that celestial geometry says cannot physically occur: the sun and the moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky, a perfect alignment that causes an atmospheric refraction, which, if you don’t remember 7th grade science, is when light stops traveling in a straight line.

In other words, aside from watching the moon go dark, and then burn bright red in the sky, onlookers will also be able to see the sun… before it’s risen.

The total eclipse “blood moon” will be visible in most of the U.S. and Australia when the sun is rising. The partial eclipse will begin at 2:18am PT (5:18am ET) and will look like the moon is being taken over by a shadow. About an hour later, at 3:27am PT (6:27am ET), the full eclipse will begin and the moon will be completely hidden by earth’s shadow. When the moon is fully covered in shadow, it will begin to turn red, a refraction of the sun across the sky’s horizon.

Eclipse Type Eastern Time Pacific Time
Partial Eclipse begins Oct 8 at 5:18 AM Oct 8 at 2:18 AM
Full Eclipse begins Oct 8 at 6:27 AM Oct 8 at 3:27 AM
Maximum Eclipse Oct 8 at 6:55 AM Oct 8 at 3:55 AM
Full Eclipse ends Oct 8 at 11:22 AM Oct 8 at 4:22 AM
Partial Eclipse ends Oct 8 at 12:32 PM Oct 8 at 5:32 AM
Penumbral Eclipse ends Oct 8 at 1:32 PM Oct 8 at 6:32 AM

Photo credit: Guian Bolisay via Flickr

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