Spectacular lunar eclipse Wednesday
The moon is expected to take on a deep orange-red glow as it passes through the center of Earth's shadow.
June 15th, 2011
01:57 PM ET

Spectacular lunar eclipse Wednesday

Sky gazers in much of the world will see a spectacular lunar eclipse Wednesday night. But if you're in North America, Greenland or Siberia, you'll have to view it virtually.

Lunar eclipses occur two to four times a year, when the sun, Earth and moon align. This one is special because the period of totality - when the moon is completely covered by Earth's shadow - will last for one hour, 40 minutes, considerably longer than usual, said David Dundee, astronomy program director at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia.

"All lunar eclipses are cool, but in a total lunar eclipse, the moon turns a kind of a red color," he said. The middle of Earth's shadow isn't black, it's red, Dundee explained, because the light waves from the sun that are on the red end of the spectrum bend around the planet at just the right angle to bathe the moon in red light.

Beginning at 17:24 UTC (2:24 p.m. ET), the moon will appear to dim slightly as it moves into Earth's penumbral shadow, then turn shades of orange and red as the planet's full (or umbral) shadow overtakes it. NASA explains it all in an animated diagram. Distortion from Earth's atmosphere may make the edges of the moon look fuzzy, Dundee noted.

Sulfur dioxide from a volcano erupting in Chile could make the southern part of the moon darker during totality, atmospheric scientist Richard Keen of the University of Colorado told Spaceweather.com.

"It's going to look like the moon is being attacked by the Cookie Monster as you see a big bite being taken out of it," Dundee said. "... The shadow is round because we live on a round planet."

The entire process will last five hours, 36 minutes, ending at 23:00 UTC (7 p.m. ET), making it the longest one of the 21st century, astronomer N Rathnasree told the Indian network NDTV. The best and longest views will occur in a triangular swath from the west coast of Australia; to India, Kazakhstan, Turkey and all of the Middle East; to the eastern two-thirds of Africa. People in the Far East and South America will get a shorter show.

But take heart, North American moon fans. You'll be able to watch the eclipse streamed in real time here or here or here or here.

If you are fortunate enough to see it with your own eyes, share your images with CNN's iReport.

Many cultures' mythology explains lunar eclipses as a dragon or other monster eating the moon, Dundee said.

"The remedy is to make loud noises to scare the dragon away. And you know what? It works every time," he said. "The moon always comes back."

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Filed under: Earth • Science • Solar System • Space
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. fernace

    @ Nachobiddness, all the people you named pay taxes. If you're gonna rag, it helps to have your facts straight! Also this article is about a lunar eclipse, get a clue!!

    June 15, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rain Man With A Personality

      @fernace: Let's be honest. All people getting paid from taxpayer money don't actually pay taxes. Politicians increase their pay all the time to keep up with cost of living and taxes. They are playing with house money.

      June 15, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CSnSC

    @NWA and nachonotclever, u 2 should get together, combined ya'l got an average IQ !

    June 15, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    ************Sneeze*********** Sorry.

    June 15, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tim Thomas

      Bless you.. *hacks at legs*

      June 15, 2011 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pon9004

    lets watch How to watch the lunar eclipse at http://worldnews-update.com/2011/06/14/how-to-watch-the-lunar-eclipse-tomorrow/

    June 15, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Northern2011

    The lunar eclipse was different, but nothing too exciting.

    June 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • GoodAdvize

      A nice representation of the sound of the Moon according to Johannes Kepler and Hans Cousto: http://youtu.be/CkcsNLLqa48

      June 16, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. fernace

    @ Kim what exactly are you trying to say & are you sure you're not two!?!

    June 15, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mmmmm

    Lone werewolve out about town painting the moon red...

    June 16, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jazzzzzzzz

    And stale toast is white toast. Hello Mmmmm. He he.

    June 16, 2011 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. bob

    Odd how something that occurs precisely on time at exactly the same time for thousands of years is labeled an accident.

    June 16, 2011 at 6:13 am | Report abuse |
  10. Chang

    Called it,....Bruins

    June 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amounda

    In my opinion havnig to even listen to a reporter like this CNN guy is torture.I mean seriously did he actually hear his own question?? I think NOT! Reminded me of a Steven Colbert take on a comedy central show where he asks a guest if some thing is A) GREAT ,or B) the GREATEST and those are the only 2 choices well SC is a comedian so we get that..perhaps this reporter should try the comedy central thing instead od trying to be a real reporter.

    April 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. total solar eclipse , Australia , November

    Valuable information. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this coincidence did not took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

    November 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
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