Total lunar eclipse to be visible for record amount of time


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Spoiler alert -- residents of the United States are going to miss out on Friday's total lunar eclipse. In North America, only a sliver of eastern Canada and the eastern Caribbean will be able to catch a glimpse of the moon in shadow.

Total lunar eclipse to be visible for record amount of time

As this NASA map showcases, most of the rest of the world will get to witness the phenomenon. At what time of day the lunar eclipse will appear depends on where you live.

Would-be viewers can calculate the best time to look skyward using the charts at The same website will also offer a live stream for those thwarted by geography or the weather.

In Britain, for example, the lunar eclipse will last throughout the evening, beginning when the moon rises at 8:50 p.m. local time.

Unlike like a solar eclipse, it is entirely safe to look directly at a lunar eclipse. Friday's eclipse will offer sky-watchers more time than usual to look.

As NPR reported, NASA expects Friday's lunar eclipse to be the longest this century. The event will last more than six hours, and the total eclipse will last as estimated one hour and 42 minutes. During this time, the Earth, sun and moon will be in a direct line

As explained, the eclipse's record length is the result the moon's positioning relative to Earth. Just before the lunar eclipse event, the moon will reach its apogee, its farthest point from Earth. When the moon is farther away, it orbits Earth more slowly -- meaning it will take its time as it passes through Earth's shadow.

The moon will also be plotting a fairly long path across the Earth's disk-shaped shadow.

"The Moon is passing very close to the center of Earth's shadow, so it is passing on a chord that almost equals the full diameter of the shadow," Steve Edberg, an astronomer who recently retired from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told the Los Angeles Times. "In other words, the moon is taking almost the longest possible path through Earth's shadow."

Lunar eclipse are sometimes referred to as blood moons, as a result of the reddish orange tint the face of the moon takes on as moves entirely into the shadow of Earth. The red hue is caused by rays of sunlight refracted by Earth's atmosphere. These red rays are always cast into the space behind Earth, but they are normally drowned out by the sun's direct light.

By Brooks Hays

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