Watch the Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse This Weekend
On Sunday, a super blood moon lunar eclipse will sweep across the sky.
Unlike with solar eclipses, you need no special equipment to observe lunar eclipses. These latter events, which occur when the moon passes into Earth's shadow, are safe to view directly with the eye, telescopes or binoculars.
On Sunday (Jan. 20), the moon, snuggled up as close as it ever does to Earth, will pass through our planet's shadow and put on a show for millions across North and South America.
If you just want to see the thing, you can walk outside at 12 minutes past midnight on the U.S. East Coast (9:12 p.m. on the West Coast) and look up. That's when the eclipse will be at its climax — the Earth, moon and sun will be exactly lined up in an eclipse. [Why Does the Moon Turn Red During a Total Lunar Eclipse?
But, if you have hand warmers and a large hat and scarf, you can stick around for the moon's full dance through Earth's shadow. At about 9:36 p.m. EST (6:36 p.m. PST), the moon will first move into part of Earth's shadow, called the penumbra.
This is when the eclipse will start — Earth's shadow will block some sunlight from reaching the moon, but not all of it. The moon will slightly dim as it moves into and across the penumbra, but observers will only notice the dimming very slightly, if at all, according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Then, things will start to heat up.
At 10:33 p.m. EST (7:33 p.m. PST), the moon will move farther behind Earth and the sun, and part of it will enter our planet's darker shadow, called the umbra. Once this happens, one side of the moon will begin to darken, like someone is erasing chunks of it from the side.
This will continue until our sole satellite is fully within the umbra at 11:41 p.m. EST (8:41 p.m. PST). But the sky won't turn completely black — molecules in our atmosphere will make it so that red light from the sun will bend into Earth's shadow, according to NASA.
The red-tinted moon will again reach full eclipse at about 12:12 p.m. EST (9:12 p.m. PST) — when it is in the very middle of the umbra. At 12:43 a.m. EST Monday (Jan. 21), the moon will poke itself out of the umbra and into the penumbra; and at 1:50 a.m. EST (10:50 p.m. PST, Jan. 20), it will have totally left the umbra.
Finally, the eclipse will end at 2:48 a.m. EST (11:48 p.m. PST), when the moon is also fully out of the penumbra, according to NASA.
Though these times mark the moon's location in the sky relative to Earth and the sun, the very nature of the eclipse — such as the shade of red it turns — will depend on weather and atmosphere conditions that day. Because it's a supermoon, it might turn a darker shade than it would if the moon were farther away from Earth during the eclipse, according to NASA.