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Western Slope Skies - Lunar Eclipse, Nov. 18-19


Lunar eclipses happen when the full Moon moves through the shadow of Earth that is cast by the Sun. Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are visible from Earth’s entire night-side. This eclipse will be nearly total, a very deep partial eclipse with most of the Moon immersed in Earth’s dark shadow.

The eclipse begins almost imperceptibly at 11:02 PM MST on November 18, when the leading edge of the Moon contacts the partial shade of Earth’s penumbral shadow. An observer on the Moon within the penumbra would see a partial eclipse of the Sun by the Earth.

For us in Colorado, the real drama starts just after midnight, at 12:19 AM on November 19, when the Moon enters Earth’s darker, umbral shadow. Try using binoculars – binocular views can be awesome!

As the eclipse deepens, the Moon’s brightness will diminish greatly. You may be able to see fainter stars and even the Milky Way. An astronaut on the Moon within the umbra would see a total eclipse of the Sun by the Earth. Wouldn’t that be an amazing sight?!

Maximum eclipse happens at 2:03 AM, with 97% of the Moon immersed in Earth’s umbral shadow. So, 97% of the Moon’s near-side will experience a total eclipse of the Sun by the Earth, and the remaining 3%, a partial eclipse.

At maximum eclipse, can you see a reddish tint over the darker parts of the Moon? This is sunlight that has been reddened and bent into the umbral shadow by Earth’s atmosphere. We are seeing, projected onto the Moon, the reddish light from innumerable sunsets and sunrises from around the Earth. Although this eclipse is not total, it’s a very deep partial eclipse that may be almost as dramatic as a total lunar eclipse.

If you miss this eclipse, don’t worry. You’ll have chances to see two lunar eclipses from Colorado during 2022.

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Western Slope Skies is produced by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society. This episode was written and recorded by Art Trevena.