Lunar eclipse to occur Wednesday morning

Elizabeth Taylor, Editor-in-Chief

The first total lunar eclipse in over two years will occur early Wednesday morning and will be made even more special as it is combined with a supermoon.

Donald Pakey, Doctor of Physics and director of Eastern’s observatory, said the total eclipse will not be visible in Charleston.

According to the eclipse map on timeanddate.com, Charleston residents can look for the partial eclipse to begin at 4:45 a.m. The moon sets just before 5:30 a.m., so the total eclipse will not begin until it is out of sight for this area.

“The penumbral part starts earlier, but that’s barely noticeable – the Moon will just be a little less bright than usual,” Pakey said. “And it’s probably going to be cloudy and raining.”

Even so, it should be worthwhile to look for photos or livestreams of the event from other parts of the world; astronomers are predicting that for those who can see the eclipse, it should be quite a show.

The total eclipse will last about 15 minutes as Earth passes directly between the moon and the sun. But the entire event will last five hours, as Earth’s shadow gradually covers the moon, then starts to ebb.

It will appear reddish-orange as the result of all the sunrises and sunsets in Earth’s atmosphere projected onto the surface of the eclipsed moon.

“Hawaii has the best seat in the house and then short of that will be California and the Pacific Northwest,” said NASA’s Noah Petro, project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. New Zealand and Australia also will have prime viewing.

Everyone everywhere, though, can still soak in the brighter than usual moon, weather permitting.

The moon will be more than 220,000 miles (357,460 kilometers) away at its fullest. It’s this proximity, combined with a full moon, that qualifies it as a supermoon, making it appear slightly bigger and more brilliant in the sky.

Last month’s supermoon, by contrast, was 96 miles (155 kilometers) more distant.

Unlike a solar eclipse, there’s no harm in looking at an eclipsed moon.

More lunar shows are on the horizon.

“For people who might feel like we’re missing out, set your calendars for Nov. 19 of this year,” Petro said. This will be a nearly total eclipse where the moon dims but doesn’t turn red.

The next total lunar eclipse will be May 2022. The last one was January 2019.

 

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Elizabeth Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]