Longest Partial Lunar Eclipse in Centuries Coming as ‘Almost’ Total Lunar Eclipse

We have a rare opportunity to witness the longest partial lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years. If the weather permits, it will grace our sky on the night of Nov. 18 and early in the morning Nov. 19 across all of the United States.

A lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, Earth, and Full Moon form a near-perfect lineup in space. A partial lunar eclipse occurs when only a portion of the Moon passes through the Earth’s darkest shadow. During this type of eclipse, a part of the Moon will darken to a dim orange or red as it moves through the Earth’s shadow.

Partial lunar eclipse image
When only a part of the moon enters Earth’s shadow, the event is called a partial lunar eclipse. Credit: Brad Riza

The upcoming eclipse will be visible throughout much of the globe where the Moon appears above the horizon during the eclipse, including North and South America, Eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Region. North America will have the best location to see the entirety of the eclipse.

The partial eclipse will begin a little after 1:00 a.m. CST on Nov 19 (11:00 pm PST on Nov 18.), reaching its maximum at 3:00 a.m. CST. Depending on your local time zone, it’ll happen earlier or later in the evening for you. It will last 3 hours and 28 minutes, making it the longest partial eclipse of this century and the longest in 580 years.

This is a remarkably deep partial eclipse as up to 97% of the Moon’s diameter will be covered by Earth’s darkest shadow. Only a thin slice of the Moon will be exposed directly to the Sun at maximum eclipse. Expect to see the rest of the Moon take on the orange-reddish colors, appearing as an “almost” total lunar eclipse.

Total Lunar Eclipse
A telescopic visualization of the 2021 total lunar eclipse.
Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

You won’t need any special glasses to see the partial lunar eclipse, unlike when viewing a solar eclipse. Just wake up, get out of the bed, and go outside to see the last lunar eclipse of 2021!

Learn more about eclipses here and enjoy this spectacle as you watch the skies!

by Lance D. Davis