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. jfc1

    those sites will last 30 seconds, one is already offline

    June 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • pon9004

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

      June 15, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tac

    Dundee said. "... The shadow is round because we live on a round planet."

    Wow..thats brilliant! How much did taxpayers have to spend for you to determine that little spit of information?

    June 15, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • zmey

      Well, he had to dumb it down so that people whose every comment starts with "the taxpayers" could understand it.

      June 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Sarcasm

      You need to put "sarcasm" somewhere in your name so that the geniuses out there get it.

      June 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nachobidness

      Only the taxpayers should be able to vote. Cops, judges, military people, teachers, postal workers etc. don't count. They're paid from tax money...same with folks on medicare, medicaid, social security, and food stamps. That leaves a relatively small portion of the country that's paying the bill...and china since we borrow over a trillion a year.

      June 15, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Isaac Neutron

      Round,,,, Oval.
      CLOSE enough for gov't work...

      June 15, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Triggernomitry

      @Issac : Well stated.. Oval is the true shape of the earth.. Gold star for you buddy.

      June 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chris

    that's awesome........then we should unleash a huge assault on their @$$e$ to emphasize it!

    June 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jj

    'Huge lunar eclipse...' could they have chosen a less unfortunate headline, or a slimmer lady for that video? Luckily, it wasn't on BET – 'huge-a ss lunar eclipse...'

    June 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr Sarcasm

      You can say ass on CNN blogs.

      June 15, 2011 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones


      Hey, Mr Sarcasm said I could!

      June 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  5. KCTwister

    just waiting for the next big natural disaster. Hope all these eclipses don't play a factor in it.?

    June 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      @KCTwister... How do you suppose a shadow might cause a "natural disaster"? I'm genuinely curious as to the thought process behind your comment.

      June 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • NWA

      the moon does create anomaly in earth's magnetic field, where do you think high/low tides come from? i suppose when all the planets line up the earth will get shredded... ha!

      June 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      @NWA, The thing you think you're referring to is actually gravity. And that still has nothing to do with a SHADOW, which is all a lunar eclipse is, somehow magically causing natural disasters. Do they teach *nothing* in school any more?

      June 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • adam

      i thought it was a dragon? whats all this shadow business about?

      June 15, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • conoclast

      Let's see, you're afraid and you're ignorant: you must be a christian! Go find a bus to get on!

      June 15, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      NWA, it is impossible for all the planets to line up. They're not all on exactly the same plane.

      June 15, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Atreyu

      @adam: It's a shadow dragon duh.. Wish it was the good luck dragon from The Never Ending Story.. Ninjas work in shadows and they believe in dragons.. Seems pretty reasonable to me.

      June 15, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CSnSC

    Of course, all natural disasters are caused by...shadows

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

    HA HA! My thoughts exactly. Now let's see if your post gets deleted.

    June 15, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Hunter


    June 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pensimmon

    Why be rude? maybe you have a congenital fault, and can't help it, in which case I'm sorry for you, and you are to be pitied. This woman is just doing her job, and the story is about an eclipse – too hard for you?

    June 15, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chang

    Bruins win tonight cuz of this....Remember when this happened when the Red Sux lucked up in 04 and finally broke through...The moon was Blood red then as well.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NWA

    yeah she is, if her job is eating everything that moves...

    June 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Comatoast

      I'm holding perfectly still...

      June 15, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmmmm

      white toast is stale toast

      June 16, 2011 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  12. kim

    Ok a cookie monster I could of did without that I am not two years old oh well......its just gotten to the point where they seem to insult people intelligence but there is always some dum ass that gives them reason too.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pmk1953

    Sarah Palin said that the eclipse is Obama's fault because there isn't enough money to pay the moon's light bill.

    June 15, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    This is clearly Obama's fault!

    June 15, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BeautilfullDisaster

    Come on only idiots talk non-sense besides it's an Lunar Eclipes i believe alot of people are gonna be watching it.. just like how people like watching falling stars what could you possibly predict.... an idiot invasion

    June 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
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