It's the longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years, and it will be more than 600 years before it happens again
It's technically not a total lunar eclipse, but it very nearly is.
What is a Beaver Moon? Why is this eclipse so rare, and why should you wake up in the middle of the night to see it? Read on for everything you need to know about the nearly total lunar eclipse, which will be viewable across Illinois and the rest of the U.S., early on Friday, November 19.
The next time a lunar eclipse of this length will happen again is in 648 years according to Time and Date.
What to expect?
Viewers watching the night sky will see the full Moon gradually fade away and slowly reappear as it passes through Earth's shadow. At the peak of the eclipse, the Moon will turn a reddish or orange hue.
According to the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, over 95% of the Moon will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow in the Chicago area. At the point of maximum eclipse, only a thin sliver of the lighter shadow will show.
"What color will the Moon be at maximum eclipse? That’s hard to say. Lunar eclipses can take on a gray, orange, or reddish color," the planetarium said on their website.
What is the timing?
The Adler Planetarium posted a handy chart on Twitter to let Chicago skywatchers know just when to head outside and look up at the night sky.
According to the chart on Thursday night November 18, heading into Friday morning November 19, the following will occur in the Chicago area:
- 12:02 AM - penumbral eclipse begins
- 1:18 AM - partial eclipse begins
- 3:02 AM - maximum eclipse (this is the best time to see the reddish color)
- 4:47: AM - partial eclipse ends
- 6:03 AM - eclipse ends
If you can't get outside, you can watch the broadcast live from Chicago's Adler Planetarium's YouTube channel starting at 1:30 AM CST.
Why is it called a Beaver Moon?
According to the Farmers Almanac, the last full Moon of November happens when beavers are busy collecting wood for their dams before the winter, and native Americans and European settlers took advantage of this and trapped them for their warm furs.
It's also the time of year when the Moon is furthest from the Earth, which is why this eclipse is such a long one.
Why should you interrupt your sleep to watch it?
The full Moon coinciding with a nearly total lunar eclipse lasting for hours should be a spectacular and rare sight. And you don't need special telescopes or glasses to view it. You can simply step outside and look up at the night sky.
According to Sky and Telescope, "The Moon gradually glides into Earth's shadow, until most of the lunar disk turns from silvery grey to an eerie dim orange or red. Then events unfold in reverse order, until the Moon returns to full brilliance."
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