Factbox: ‘Beaver blood moon’ offers world’s last total lunar eclipse until 2025

Nov 7 (Reuters) – Night sky watchers from East Asia to North America will enjoy the rare spectacle of a “beaver blood moon” on Tuesday, weather permitting, when the Earth, moon and sun align to create a total lunar eclipse for the last time until 2025

Here are some key facts about the upcoming celestial show, which takes place in a highly unusual coincidence with Election Day in the United States, and about lunar eclipses in general.

WHAT IS HAPPENING

A total lunar eclipse occurs when Earth casts its entire shadow over a full moon, blocking all direct sunlight from being reflected off the lunar globe and darkening the moon’s color to a reddish hue, hence the term “blood moon”.

This is only possible when the orbits of the Earth, Moon, and Sun are aligned so that the Moon is directly behind the Earth relative to the Sun. Otherwise, the Moon passes above or below the Earth’s shadow because its orbit around the Earth is usually tilted relative to the Earth’s orbit around the sun.

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WHY RED

The reddish appearance of the lunar surface—the moon does not disappear completely from view—is caused by rays of sunlight around the outer edge of the eclipse shadow, or shadow, being filtered and refracted as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere, indirectly bathing the moon in a murky copper shine.

The degree of reddening depends on atmospheric conditions, which vary with levels of air pollution, dust storms, smoke from forest fires and even volcanic ash.

HOW RARE

Total lunar eclipses occur on average once every year and a half, according to NASA. But the interval varies. Tuesday’s event will mark the second blood moon this year, following the one in mid-May. The next one is not expected until March 14, 2025.

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WHERE SEEN

Tuesday’s eclipse will be visible in East Asia, Australia, the Pacific and North America. Sky watchers in Asia and Australia will see it with the evening moonrise, while the spectacle will play out for observers in North America in the early morning hours before the moon sets. It will be visible to the naked eye anywhere the sky is clear in these regions.

HOW LONG IT GOES ON

The total eclipse will unfold over a period of nearly six hours as the moon gradually enters Earth’s paler outer shadow, its “penumbra,” then enters Earth’s darker, inner shadow, or “umbrella,” before reaching wholeness and eventually come out the other side.

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On the West Coast of the United States, the total display will last from 12:01 a.m. PST until just before 6 a.m., with the total phase of the eclipse lasting about 90 minutes, peaking at 3 a.m.

WHY BEAVER MOON

Tuesday’s event will coincide with the “Beaver Moon,” a nickname for November’s full moon taken from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is believed to be from the Algonquian languages ​​once spoken by Native Americans in the New England Territory. When combined with the phenomenon of a total lunar eclipse, it is widely referred to in the United States as the “Blood Beaver Moon”.

Sources: NASA; Space.com; Sky & Telescope magazine; Griffith Observatory; Old Farmer’s Almanac

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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