Get Ready For Total Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Night

February 19, 2008
This map shows when the eclipse will be visible across the United States. Credit: NASA

In the late night hours of Feb. 20, 2008, a total lunar eclipse will dazzle the night sky. And this lunar eclipse may be worth staying up for, because it will be the last one until December 2010.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon, casting a shadow over the moon's surface. The February 20, 2008 eclipse will last for nearly 3 and a half hours. For a full 50 minutes of that time the moon will be in totality - the period when the lunar surface is completely covered by the Earth's shadow.

During an eclipse the moon changes color, going from a light gray color to an orange or deep red shade. This is totality. The moon takes on this new color because indirect sunlight is still able to pass through the Earth's atmosphere and cast a glow on the moon.

The exact color that the moon appears depends on the amount of dust and clouds in the atmosphere. If there are extra particles in the atmosphere, from say a recent volcanic eruption, the moon will appear a darker shade of red.

Residents of the Americas, Europe and Africa will have the best view of this eclipse.

Here in the United States, the entire eclipse will be visible for the majority of the country. However, residents on the West Coast will miss out on watching the early stages of the eclipse, as it begins before moonrise.

This Wednesday night, hope for clear skies, try to stay awake and enjoy a spectacular lunar eclipse.

Source: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, by Laura Motel

Explore further: Blues for the second full moon of July

Related Stories

Blues for the second full moon of July

July 28, 2015

Brace yourselves for blue moon madness. The month of July 2015 hosts two full moons: One on July 2nd and another coming right up this week on Friday, July 31st at 10:43 Universal Time (UT)/6:43 AM EDT.

Lunar eclipse turns moon blood red

June 16, 2011

The longest lunar eclipse in more than a decade turned the moon blood red on Thursday, yielding a rare visual treat for stargazers across a large swathe of the planet from Australia to Europe.

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

March 31, 2015

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Watch the "blood moon" eclipse from Mercury (w/ Video)

October 13, 2014

Yes, it's another time-lapse of the October 8 lunar eclipse that was observed by skywatchers across half the Earth… except that these images weren't captured from Earth at all; this was the view from Mercury!

Recommended for you

Image: Hubble sees a dying star's final moments

July 31, 2015

A dying star's final moments are captured in this image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The death throes of this star may only last mere moments on a cosmological timescale, but this star's demise is still quite ...

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking back to the future

July 31, 2015

Geoff Marcy remembers the hair standing up on the back of his neck. Paul Butler remembers being dead tired. The two men had just made history: the first confirmation of a planet orbiting another star.

Earth flyby of 'space peanut' captured in new video

July 31, 2015

NASA scientists have used two giant, Earth-based radio telescopes to bounce radar signals off a passing asteroid and produce images of the peanut-shaped body as it approached close to Earth this past weekend.

Binary star system precisely timed with pulsar's gamma-rays

July 31, 2015

Pulsars are rapidly rotating compact remnants born in the explosions of massive stars. They can be observed through their lighthouse-like beams of radio waves and gamma-rays. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.