This year’s first total eclipse of the moon will last an unusually long time.
That is, unless you live in Canada or the United States. North America will not be privy to Wednesday’s lunar spectacle.
The period when earth’s shadow completely blocks the moon will last 1 hour and 40 minutes. The last time the moon was covered for so long was back in July 2000, when it lasted 7 minutes longer.
Normally, the full moon glows with reflected sunlight. A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon glides through the long shadow cast by the Earth and is blocked from the sunlight illuminating it.
As the moon plunges deeper into the shadow of the earth, the disk appears to gradually change color, turning from silver to red or orange. This is because some indirect sunlight still reaches the moon after passing through the atmosphere, which scatters blue light blue. Only red light hits the moon.
Because the moon will pass close to the center of the earth’s shadow, the total eclipse phase will last longer than usual.
The entire eclipse should last a little over 5 1/2 hours. Observers in Europe will miss the first part of the show because it will happen before the moon rises. Eastern Asia and eastern Australia will not catch the final stages, which will happen after the moon sets. Portions of South America will be able see the moon completely shrouded.