A total lunar eclipse will grace the night skies this weekend. It provided longer than usual thrills for stargazers across North and South America. The celestial action unfolds Sunday night into early Monday morning, with the moon bathed in the reflected red and orange hues of Earth’s sunsets and sunrises for about 1 1/2 hours. It is one of the longest totalities of the decade. It will be the first so-called blood moon in a year.
Observers in the eastern half of North America and all of Central and South America will have prime seats for the whole show. Partial stages of the eclipse will be visible across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Left outs are Alaska, Asia and Australia.
This is really an eclipse for the Americas. A total eclipse occurs when Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun casts a shadow on our constant and cosmic companion. The moon will be 225,000 miles (362,000 kilometers) away at the peak of the eclipse. It will be around midnight on the U.S. East Coast.
This is this gradual, slow, wonderful event that as long as it’s clear where you are, you get to see it. If not, NASA will provide a livestream of the eclipse from various locations. There’ll be another lengthy total lunar eclipse in November. Africa and Europe will luck out again, but not the Americas. Then the next one isn’t until 2025. Launched last fall, NASA’s asteroid-seeking Lucy spacecraft will photograph this weekend’s event from 64 million miles (103 million kilometers) away. Ground controllers continue their effort to fix a loose solar panel. NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, a geologist, plans to set her alarm clock early aboard the International Space Station.