If you’re loony about lunar events, you’ll be excited to hear that there’s a blood moon rising tonight – or early Wednesday morning to be exact. Blood moons are caused by light reflecting off the Earth’s surface during a full moon eclipse – and the one taking place in the wee hours of Wednesday morning is the second of four eclipses happening this year. According to NPR, the eclipse will be visible across North America – but will be seen best by those in the central and western parts of the continent. Read on for the best time to turn your eyes to the sky to catch this cosmic event.
According to Space.com: “Interested skywatchers should attempt to see the total eclipse of the moon and the rising sun simultaneously. The little-used name for this effect is called a ‘selenelion,’ a phenomenon that celestial geometry says cannot happen.”
“And indeed, during a lunar eclipse, the sun and moon are exactly 180 degrees apart in the sky. In a perfect alignment like this (called a ‘syzygy‘), such an observation would seem impossible. But thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, the images of both the sun and moon are apparently lifted above the horizon by atmospheric refraction. This allows people on Earth to see the sun for several extra minutes before it actually has risen and the moon for several extra minutes after it has actually set.”
East coasters will be able to catch a glimpse of the eclipse happening as dawn approaches with the eclipse in full progress. For those in Australia or Asia, the eclipse officially happens on October 8th. If the skies happen to be cloudy in your part of the world, you can see the eclipse virtually via two webcasts – the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will start broadcasting at 1:15am PDT, and an international team of photographers working on the Virtual Telescope Project will start streaming at 6:00 a.m. EDT. You can also check out a great calculator offered by the U.S. Naval Observatory that tells you exactly when to gaze into the heavens from your particular part of the planet.