In the early morning Friday sky the first of two winter lunar eclipses will appear.
“If you’re a person who wakes up early or stays up very late, this eclipse is for you,” said James Albury, director of Santa Fe College’s Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.
He not only runs the planetarium facility and programs, but also creates episodes of an astronomy show he calls “The Sky Above Us.”
Albury said the upcoming event is not only a partial lunar eclipse but it is a deep partial lunar eclipse.
“Both earth and the moon cast two shadows, an inner, darker shadow called the umbra and a lighter outer shadow called the penumbra,” he said. “When the moon passes through only a portion of the darker part of the shadow, the umbra, we call it a partial lunar eclipse.”
This is why people should look to the sky early on Friday morning (Nov. 19).
The moon will enter Earth’s shadow a lot closer to the center, according to Albury. “So much so that almost 97 percent of the moon will be within the darker part of Earth’s shadow.”
The maximum eclipse moment for the east coast of North America will happen at 4:04 a.m.
Albury gives a timeline of how the event will play out.
“At 1 a.m. on Nov. 19 get up and at 1:03 a.m. the moon begins its entrance into Earth’s penumbra,” he said. “Almost an hour and a half later at 2:20 a.m. the moon enters the darker part of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra. Here’s where things start to get noticeable.
“You’ll see a dark smudge appear on the eastern limb of the moon and over the next 90 minutes that smudge will get larger and larger, covering a bigger section of the moon’s surface.”
By 4:04 a.m. the moon will be as deep into the earth’s shadow as it will get for this eclipse, Albury says.
“And since this partial is so deep, you should begin to see some of the reddish color we often see during a total lunar eclipse.”
Albury explains that the red color is caused by sunlight being bent by Earth’s atmosphere.
“You can see this red color whenever you watch a sunrise or sunset,” he said. “Therefore, the sunlight from all the sunrises and sunsets on Earth at the moment of the eclipse is what causes the red color of a total (or deep partial) eclipse of the moon.”
The moon will exit the umbra completely by 5:48 a.m. and the eclipse will officially end at 7:04 a.m. when the moon leaves Earth’s penumbra.
Albury said local astronomers should, “Mark your calendar for Sunday, May 15, 2022. If you live in North America, you’ll get to see a total lunar eclipse during a more sane part of the night—between 10:30 p.m. and 2 a.m.”
If the skies are cloudy and visibility is an issue, viewers can see the eclipse play out live here.
Follow Albury on his “The Sky Above Us” Youtube channel for future celestial happenings.