Get Ready For Total Lunar Eclipse Wednesday Night

Feb 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: Image: Europa's Jupiter-facing hemisphere

Related Stories

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

Mar 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.

Brief moon eclipse coming April 4

Apr 01, 2015

A brief total eclipse of the Moon may be visible on April 4 to skywatchers in western North America, Australia and East Asia, astronomers say.

Recommended for you

Image: Europa's Jupiter-facing hemisphere

18 hours ago

This 12-frame mosaic provides the highest resolution view ever obtained of the side of Jupiter's moon Europa that faces the giant planet. It was obtained on Nov. 25, 1999 by the camera onboard the Galileo ...

SpaceX cleared for US military launches

19 hours ago

The US Air Force has certified private company SpaceX to launch military satellites, opening the doors to a lucrative market previously held solely by a Lockheed and Boeing joint venture.

User comments : 0

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.