The eclipse will commence when the moon first slips into the Earth’s less opaque, outer shadow called the penumbra at 1:02am EST Friday to result in a dimming effect on the moon, this as sunlight which would otherwise reflect off the moon to illuminate the stellar orb is blocked.
The pièce de résistance takes place between 2:18am EST and 5:47am EST when the moon slowly passes through the Earth’s dark, innermost shadow, the umbra (latin for ‘shadow’…makes sense) and takes on a spooky reddish or coppery hue.
At 6 hours and 2 minutes, the total duration of the eclipse, from the moment the moon enters Earth’s penumbral shadow to the moment it exits, will be the longest since the year 1440. The last time a partial lunar eclipse endured for as long was in the year 1440, about the same time the Incas were erecting Machu Picchu.
Why, you ask, is the upcoming eclipse so long? Because the timing of the eclipse comes as the moon closes in on apogee, or its farthest point from Earth for the month. The farther away the moon, the slower it cruises along its orbit, and thus the moon will require a bit more time to slide out of the Earth’s shadow.
The maximum eclipse will occur at 4:02am EST during which up to 99.1% of the moon will be engulfed by the umbra. For maximum viewing pleasure, the best time to take a peek will be between 3:30am EST and 4:30am EST. So set your alarm and have a gaze at this rare, celestial delight!
— Lauren Casey