.....After several years, there will again be a Total Lunar Eclipse (yes, I capitalized everything) early Tuesday morning . The east coast is not well set, but the Upper Midwest, the Southwest, and the West Coast have some potential. Give it a shot! What have you really got to lose?
.....(Sleep. The answer is sleep, but in the grabd scheme of things, this is our best lunar eclipse for a few years.)
.....To see this, all you need is a good view of the skies (from the Americas, and best set up for North America). If you have a telescope, or even binoculars, that will make things even better, but it isn't necessary.
.....The first stage is when the Moon enters the Earth's penumbra, the shadow where part of the Sun, but not all of it, is blocked. This will be pretty much undetectable. The Moon enters the penumbra at: 11:18 PM (CDT/ UT -6, which is 12:18 AM Tuesday in the Eastern Time Zone, and 10:18 PM in Mountain Daylight Time, and so on.) The Moon will entirely be within the umbra by about 12:19 AM CDT, but again, this will still be hard to detect.
.....The Moon starts to enter the umbra, the central shadow at 12:21 AM (again, CDT, the best time zone) , and totality, with the Moon entirely in the umbra from 1:28 AM to 2:52 AM.
.....On Earth, a total eclipse of the Sun is completely dark, but in a lunar eclipse, the light being blocked by the Earth behaves differently than light being blocked by the Moon. The Moon has no atmosphere, so the shadow of the Moon is sharp, but the light must pass through the Earth's atmosphere. Look at the sky -- the reason that the sky is blue is because the shorter the wavelength of light (the bluer the light is), the more than the light gets scattered. The blue light is scattered first, and the setting Sun appears red because red light is scattered last. This red light is spread into the shadow, and the totally eclipsed Moon will appear a deep red, sometimes getting so faint that theFull Moon is hard to find in the sky.
.....The Moon leaves the umbra at 4:00 AM CDT, so the party is then pretty much over.
.....This lunar eclipse happens after the Spring Solstice (believe it or not, those of us looking at snow tonight), so the Sun is getting higher in the sky. The Full Moon (exactly on the opposite side of the sky) will be in Virgo, a bit lower in the sky.The Full Moon will be very close to the planet Mars and the bright star Spica. Spica can be identified by starting at the Big Dipper, as follows:
.........If you follow the curve of the Big Dipper's handle, the curve will arc towards the bright star Arcturus, in Bootes (coming soon), and if you go past Arcturus, you will speed on to Spica, in Virgo. Mars is the bright red object that will be a bit higher in the sky than Spica. From the Upper Midwestern United States, the Moon will be about a third of the way up the sky at maximum eclipse, high enough, where it should be easily seen.
.....If you do get a chance to see it, please let me know!