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Lunar eclipse this coming Sunday night. Here are all the details!

This Sunday evening, and overnight, we will have a lunar eclipse that will be viewable in our area. The penumbral eclipse (or "shadow eclipse") will begin at 8:32 PM Central Time / 9:32 PM Eastern Time, with the partial eclipse beginning at 9:27 PM Central Time, and the total eclipse starting at 10:29 PM Central Time. The total eclipse period will last until 11:53 PM Central, with the peak of the total eclipse being at 11:12 PM local time. The moon exits the partial eclipse phase at 12:55 AM Central Time Monday morning (just after midnight on Sunday night), and the entire eclipse is over at 1:50 AM Central Time.

A lunar eclipse happens when the orbit of the Earth around the sun and the orbit of moon around Earth aligns things so that the Earth is located between the moon and the sun, casting a hard shadow onto the side of the moon visible from Earth. There is a hard, dark shadow cast directly in line with Earth, and then a softer shadow that is cast outward at an angle from the hard shadow. The moon has to be in its full moon phase in order for a lunar eclipse to be possible.

There are three types of lunar eclipses, and during a total lunar eclipse, all three of these become phases of the overall total lunar eclipse event. The total lunar eclipse happens when the entire visible surface of the moon is covered by Earth's hard shadow. This casts a deep, rusty red appearance on the moon, and this is why total lunar eclipses are often called a "blood moon". All total lunar eclipses have this appearance. A partial lunar eclipse is when Earth's hard (main) shadow only cover a fraction of the moon. The moon still takes on a rusty red hue, but it is not nearly as vibrant as during the total eclipse phase. During this time, it looks like Earth's shadow has taken a bite out of the moon. Lastly, the penumbral eclipse is where Earth's hard shadow never covers a portion of the moon's surface, but part of Earth's soft shadow does. A penumbral eclipse is faintly visible, making it much harder to see.

This lunar eclipse also happens 1.5 days before the moon reaches perigee, which is when the moon is at the closest point to the Earth for its monthly rotation around the planet. Since lunar eclipses are only possible during a full moon, that alignment in time with perigee makes this a "supermoon" as well. You may hear this being called something like a "Super Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse" on the news. That is not an exaggeration of the truth at all, but that only stems from this being a lunar eclipse during the moon being in a "supermoon" cycle explained above and the fact that all total lunar eclipses are "blood moons".

For much of the central and eastern United States, the entire lunar eclipse will be visible from start to finish, weather permitting. For us back home in the Tennessee Valley, the weather won't be perfect, but it won't be that bad for eclipse viewing either. There will be some clouds in the sky at times; so, the moon might be in and out of those. However, there will be periods of cloud breaks. There may also be a lingering shower or thunderstorm into the early to mid evening, but those will mostly die away with the loss of daytime heating, and will also be hit and miss/scattered to begin with.

For more on this weekend's total lunar eclipse, check out this article:

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