Talk about good timing. Thanks to the rapid eastward movement of this morning’s storm system, clear skies are forecast for tonight’s total lunar eclipse. Details are below from our friends at EarthSky.
(Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m. Tuesday morning,
total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m.)
The very bright red planet Mars shines close to the full moon on the night of the April 14-15 eclipse. What’s more, Mars is closest to Earth for the year on April 14. Read more about Mars at its closest on our April 13 sky post.
Above photo is a 2004 lunar eclipse by Fred Espenak. Oftentimes, the full moon appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon. Thus the term Blood Moon can be and is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses.
However, the term Blood Moon seems to have special significance for some proponents of Christian prophesy, as a remarkable series of total lunar eclipses – a tetrad – begins. The first one falls on April 14 or 15 (depending on your time zone). On that night, the brilliant “star” near the April full moon is the red planet Mars, which comes closest to Earth for the year on April 14. Mars and the moon will be near each other as the eclipse takes place, and indeed, as seen from around the world, all night long. North America is in a good place to see this eclipse, by the way, and all four total eclipses of the lunar tetrad. Follow the links below to learn more about the April 14-15, 2014 total lunar eclipse:
Details on the total lunar eclipse on April 14-15.
Who will see the partial lunar eclipse on April 14-15?
Eclipse times in Universal Time
Eclipse times for North American time zones
Eclipse calculators give eclipse times for your time zone
What causes a lunar eclipse?
What is a Blood Moon?
How to photograph a lunar eclipse by eclipse master Fred Espenak
Track the moon every night throughout the year using EarthSky’s lunar calendar!
Worldwide map of April 14-15, 2014, total lunar eclipse
View larger. | Worldwide map of the April 14-15, 2014, total lunar eclipse. Map courtesy NASA Eclipse Web Site
During a lunar eclipse, the moon always passes through Earth’s very light penumbral shadow before and after its journey through Earth’s dark umbral shadow.
Details on the total lunar eclipse of April 14-15. The April 2014 full moon passes directly through Earth’s dark (umbral) shadow. The total part of the April 14-15 eclipse lasts nearly 1.3 hours. A partial umbral eclipse precedes totality by over an hour, and follows totality by over an hour, so the moon takes a little more than 3.5 hours to completely sweep through the Earth’s dark shadow on the night of April 14-15.
North and South America, plus islands of the Pacific (such as Hawaii) are in the best position worldwide to watch the total eclipse of the moon on the night of April 14-15. Elsewhere around the world, New Zealand can watch the total eclipse shortly after sunset on April 15, and the eastern part of Australia can see the total eclipse, at least in part, starting at sunset on April 15.
A very light penumbral eclipse comes before and after the dark (umbral) stage of the lunar eclipse. But this sort of eclipse is so faint that many people won’t even notice it. The penumbral eclipse would be more fun to watch from the moon, where it would be seen as a partial eclipse of the sun.
Who will see the partial lunar eclipse of April 14-15? A partial lunar eclipse may be visible in the haze of morning dawn from the extreme western portion of Africa, before sunrise on April 15. A partial lunar eclipse can also be observed from Japan, far-eastern Russia, eastern Indonesia and central Australia, starting at sunset on April 15.
Above eclipse diagram, courtesy of Fred Espenak, gives the eclipse times in Greenwich Mean Time (also known as Universal Time). Eclipse diagrams for any North American time zone, plus a treasure chest of information, can be found at Total Eclipse of the Moon: April 15, 2014
Eclipse times in Universal Time
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 5:58 Universal Time (UT)
Total eclipse begins: 7:07 UT
Greatest eclipse: 7:46 UT
Total eclipse ends: 8:25 UT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 9:33 UT
How do I translate Universal Time to my time?
Eclipse times for North American time zones.
Central Daylight Time (April 15, 2014)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m. CDT on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m. CDT
Greatest eclipse: 2:46 a.m. CDT
Total eclipse ends: 3:25 a.m. CDT
Partial eclipse ends: 4:33 a.m. CDT
Eclipse calculators give times of the April 14-15 lunar eclipse in your time zone
You have to be on the nighttime side of Earth while the lunar eclipse is taking place to witness this great natural phenomenon. Of course, people around the globe want to know whether the eclipse is visible from their part of the world and at what time. Check out the two links below, to find out if the eclipse is visible from your neck of the woods. If so, these handy sites provide you with the local times of the partial and total lunar eclipse (so no conversion is necessary):
Lunar eclipse computer courtesy of the US Naval Observatory
Eclipse calculator courtesy of TimeandDate
The yellow circle shows the sun’s apparent yearly path (the ecliptic) in front of the constellations of the Zodiac. The gray circle displays the monthly path of the moon in front of the zodiacal constellations. If a new moon or full moon aligns closely with one of the moon’s nodes, then an eclipse is in the works.
What causes a lunar eclipse? A lunar eclipse can only happen at full moon. Only then is it possible for the moon to be directly opposite the sun in our sky, and to pass into the Earth’s dark umbral shadow. Most of the time, however, the full moon eludes the Earth’s shadow by swinging to the north of it, or south of it. For instance, the March 2014 full moon swung south of the Earth’s shadow. Next month – in May 2014 – the full moon will swing north of the Earth’s shadow.
The moon’s orbital plane is actually inclined at 5o to the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane. However, the moon’s orbit intersects the ecliptic at two points called nodes. It’s an ascending node where it crosses the Earth’s orbital plane going from south to north, and a descending node where it crosses the Earth’s orbital plane, going from north to south.
In short, a lunar eclipse happens when the full moon closely coincides with one of its nodes, and a solar eclipse happens when a new moon does likewise.
Bottom line: The eclipse of April 14-15, 2014 is the first in a series of four eclipses – a lunar tetrad – all of which will be visible from North America. Many will call it a Blood Moon. The bright reddish “star” near the moon on that night is the planet Mars. Details of the eclipse, and eclipse times, here.
Need more details? Visit Fred Espenak’s page
A planisphere is virtually indispensable for beginning stargazers. Order your EarthSky planisphere today.
The moon passes through the Earth’s shadow from west to east. The yellow line represents the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the dome of sky. The moon crosses the ecliptic at the moon’s ascending node, going from south to north.