The last lunar eclipse of the year will take place on November 19. Although it’s a partial lunar eclipse, 97% of the Moon’s surface will be covered in the Earth’s shadow, making it an almost total lunar eclipse. Here’s everything you need to know about this much-awaited celestial event.
Century’s longest partial lunar eclipse
The lunar eclipse of November 2021 will be the century’s longest partial lunar eclipse. It will last for 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 23 seconds to be exact. That’s more than twice the duration of the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century that lasted for 1 hour and 42 minutes. The forthcoming eclipse is also the longest lunar eclipse in 580 years.
The reddening of the Moon
You might have observed that the Moon does not disappear entirely from our view, even during a total lunar eclipse. Instead, it turns rusty red, a phenomenon sometimes referred to as the Blood Moon. Why does the Moon turn red during a lunar eclipse? Well, it’s because of the same reason the sky is blue! I’ll explain.
We know the white light from the Sun is composed of different primary colors: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red. When the Moon aligns with the Earth and the Sun, even though the Earth’s umbra completely blocks the sunlight, it bends around our planet to reach the surface of the Moon. As the sunlight travels through the Earth’s atmosphere, the shorter, bluer wavelengths are filtered out, as shown above. As a result, the Moon is washed in longer, redder wavelengths.
This phenomenon is known as Rayleigh scattering, and it’s the reason why the Moon turns red during a total lunar eclipse.
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The eclipse is set to be a very deep eclipse with about 97% of the Moon’s disk passing through the dark inner part of Earth’s shadow—its umbra—to leave “a tiny, silvery sliver of the Moon’s southern edge peeking out,” as Sky & Telescope magazine puts it.
From where can the eclipse be seen?
The November 2021 partial lunar eclipse will be visible from any location where the Moon is above the horizon at the time, including from Oceania, the Americas, Eastern Asia, Northern Europe, and Indonesia. A detailed map of the eclipse is given below. As can be seen, the lunar eclipse will be visible from all the 50 states of the US.
The timings of the November 2021 partial lunar eclipse
The eclipse will begin at 02:19 EST (07:19 UTC) and end at 05:47 EST (10:47 UTC) on November 19. A detailed table of the eclipse timings according to different time zones is given below:
There is no harm in looking at a lunar eclipse with naked eyes or through a telescope, in contrast to a solar eclipse. Although a telescope or a pair of binoculars will enhance the view, you can pretty much enjoy the cosmic show with naked eyes on your terrace or backyard!
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A lunar eclipse is always followed or preceded by a solar eclipse. This time, a total solar eclipse will take place on December 4, but unfortunately, it will be exclusive to penguins and a handful of researchers living on the South Pole. So the lunar eclipse of November 2021 is the last eclipse of the year that almost everyone on our planet can see.