A partial Lunar Eclipse is expected for this week on Thursday night into early Friday morning on November 19. This is the second lunar eclipse of 2021, the last one occurring on May 26. That eclipse was only visible for a very brief time before sunrise as it was only just beginning at 5:45 a.m. The eclipse coming up after Thursday’s sunset starts at 2:18 a.m. Friday.
What exactly is a lunar eclipse? It is similar to a solar eclipse, however, with a solar eclipse the moon moves between the Earth and the sun, creating a shadow of the moon on Earth. With a lunar eclipse, it’s a little different. Instead, the Earth crosses the path directly between the sun and the moon, thus casting the Earth’s shadow onto the moon and blocking out the light from the sun.
There are different types of lunar eclipses, this one will technically be a partial eclipse as the entirety of the moon will not be totally in Earth’s shadow. Just a tiny sliver will be left exposed, however, the moon will still take on a deep red color at the peak, which is expected to occur at 4:02 a.m. Friday. When we see a total Lunar Eclipse it is usually referred to as a “Blood Moon” as the entire surface of the moon will take on a deep red shade. The partial eclipse will still feature a red shade over the moon, it still appears red, but it will not be full, in fact, Friday morning the moon will be almost full at 99%. There are also Penumbral Lunar Eclipses, the Earth’s Shadow never actually touches the surface of the moon in these instances and it is very hard to see.
Our Lunar Eclipse will begin very early Friday at 2:18 a.m., but don’t expect the moon to take on that red hue at that time as it will be just beginning. Be sure to look towards the Western Horizon as this will be where the moon is located at the time it begins. This will continue to progress to near totality at 4:02 a.m. and the partial eclipse will be over at 5:47 a.m. In total, this eclipse will be the longest lunar eclipse this century, lasting 3 hours, 28 minutes, and 23 seconds. We will not see another partial lunar eclipse last this long for 580 years.
In terms of viewing conditions, right now it appears to be a 50/50 chance at seeing this celestial event. Behind a cold front moving through Thursday night, skies should become at least partly clear, however, a band of Lake Effect will be setting up. This will limit the visibility for some, right now, that location appears to be north of Albany during the peak of the Eclipse as that is the most likely placement of that band of lake clouds and showers. But this can change, so please check back for updates Thursday. Also, don’t forget, if you happen to see the eclipse and get a good photo of it, we would love to see it, so feel free to share it with us!
Did you know? A solar eclipse always occurs 2 weeks before or after a lunar eclipse, typically there are two eclipses in a row, however, sometimes there can be up to three during the same “eclipse season.” The next solar eclipse will be on December 4, however, you will have to travel quite far to see it as it will be in totality over Antarctica. But, a partial solar eclipse will be seen for much of the Southern Hemisphere from Australia, South Africa, Southern South America, and in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.