The upcoming partial lunar eclipse on November 19, 2021 will last over 3 hours, making it the longest to occur in a span of over 1,000 years. An eclipse of this length will not occur again until February 8, 2669, so you don’t want to miss it! Read on to learn more about this eclipse, what makes it special, and how to see it from your backyard.
What is a partial lunar eclipse?
A lunar eclipse of any kind occurs when the Earth’s shadow blocks the Sun’s light from reaching the surface of the Moon when it’s in its full phase. There are three types of lunar eclipses: total, penumbral, and partial. As the name suggests, a total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth’s shadow completely covers the Moon. A penumbral eclipse occurs when the Earth, Moon, and Sun are imperfectly aligned and the Moon moves into the outermost, diffused part of the Earth’s shadow, creating a subtle darkening of the Moon’s surface. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the Moon moves into the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow. While a total lunar eclipse is the most dramatic of these, the partial eclipse will still create a striking visual effect when viewed from Earth. When the eclipse peaks, only about 3% of the Moon will still be exposed to the Sun’s light. The darkened portion of the Moon will take on the deep reddish hues typically associated with eclipses.
How can I view the eclipse?
The entirety of the partial lunar eclipse will be visible from North America and the Pacific Ocean, Alaska, eastern Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The eclipse’s early stages will not be visible from Asia, Australia, or New Zealand, as they occur prior to moonrise. Similarly, South America and Western Europe will experience moonset before the eclipse ends. No part of the eclipse will be visible from Africa, the Middle East, or western Asia. The eclipse will begin at 07:18:43 UTC (Universal Time) and peak at 09:02:56 UTC (convert UTC to your local time zone here). The eclipse will be a fairly slow-moving event, so it’s a good idea to get comfortable for your viewing session. We recommend setting up lawn chairs or even a picnic blanket in a dark outdoor area.
We will also be streaming the eclipse live on our YouTube channel, starting at 12:15am MST on the 19th. We’ll show you live views of the eclipse through our 14″ PlaneWave and the portable Vixen refractor at the Giovale Open Deck Observatory. Educators will also discuss the science of eclipses, the best ways to view them, Lowell’s history with the Moon, and much more! You can set a reminder to watch here: https://youtu.be/-qyiEicSFD0.