The ‘beaver blood moon’ offers the last total lunar eclipse until 2025


Nighttime skywatchers from East Asia to North America will be treated to the rare sight of a ‘beaver blood moon’ on Tuesday, weather permitting, as Earth, the moon and the sun align to produce a total lunar eclipse for the last time until 2025.

Here are some key facts about the upcoming celestial display, which is happening in an extremely unusual coincidence with Election Day in the United States, and about lunar eclipses in general.

WHAT IS HAPPENING

A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth casts its shadow completely on a full moon, blocking the reflection of all direct sunlight from the lunar orb and fading the color of the moon to a reddish hue, hence the term “moon of blood”.

This is only possible when the orbits of the Earth, Moon, and Sun align so that the Moon is directly behind the Earth relative to the Sun. Otherwise, the moon passes above or below the Earth’s shadow because its orbit around the Earth is generally inclined with respect to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

A full lunar eclipse occurred on May 15, 2022.
PA

WHY RED

The reddish appearance of the lunar surface – the moon does not entirely disappear from view – is caused by the sun’s rays around the outer edge of the eclipse shadow, or umbra, being filtered and refracted as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere, bathing the moon indirectly in a faint coppery glow.

The degree of redness depends on atmospheric conditions which vary with levels of air pollution, dust storms, smoke from wildfires and even volcanic ash.

AS RARE

Total lunar eclipses occur, on average, about once every year and a half, according to NASA. But the interval varies. Tuesday’s event will mark the second blood moon this year, following the one in mid-May. The next one is not expected before March 14, 2025.

The moon eclipses from New York on May 15, 2022.
Total lunar eclipses usually occur every 1.5 years.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

WHERE IT IS VISIBLE

Tuesday’s eclipse will be visible across East Asia, Australia, the Pacific and North America. Skywatchers in Asia and Australia will see it with their evening moonrise, while the show will play out for observers in North America early in the morning before the moon sets. It will be visible to the naked eye wherever the sky is clear in these regions.

HOW LONG DOES IT LAST

The entire eclipse will take place over a period of almost six hours as the moon gradually weaves its way into Earth’s paler outer shadow, its “penumbra”, and then enters Earth’s darker inner shadow, or “shadow”, before reaching totality and finally emerging. From the other side.

On the west coast of the United States, the entire display will run from 12:01 a.m. PST until just before 6:00 a.m., with the total eclipse phase lasting about 90 minutes, peaking at 3:00 a.m.

WHY BEAVER MOON

Tuesday’s event will coincide with the “Beaver Moon,” a nickname for the November full moon adopted by the Old Farmer’s Almanac, supposedly derived from the Algonquian languages ​​once spoken by Native Americans in New England Territory. When combined with the phenomena of a total lunar eclipse, it is widely referred to as a “beaver blood moon” in the United States.

Sources: NASA; Space.com; Sky & Telescope Magazine; Griffith Observatory; Old Farmer’s Almanac

New York Post

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