In 2021 there will be two Lunar Eclipses, one will be a total eclipse and the other will be a partial eclipse:
- On May 26, 2021, at 4:46 A.M. EDT, a Total Eclipse of the Moon will only be partially visible in North America.
- On November 19, 2021, at 1:00 A.M. EDT, a Partial Eclipse of the Moon will be visible in all of North America.
2022 will see two Total Lunar Eclipses on the following dates:
- On May 15, 2022, at 9:31 P.M. EDT, the Lunar Eclipse will only be visible from some North American regions.
- On November 8, 2022, at 3:01 A.M. EDT, the total eclipse of the moon will be visible in America.
What is a Lunar Eclipse?
Because the Moon doesn't have its own light, but only reflects the light of the Sun, when the Earth gets between the Sun and the Moon and blocks the sunlight, that's when the Lunar Eclipse happens.
When the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned, the Earth casts a shadow on the Moon and obscures it, making it invisible for a few hours. A Lunar Eclipse can be total, partial, and penumbral.
A Lunar Eclipse can only happen when there is a Full Moon, and it occurs at least twice a year.
Types of Lunar Eclipse
The Penumbral lunar eclipse is the least perceptible to the naked eye. It happens when the Moon passes the Earth's penumbra, or the outer side of the Earth's shadow. The only thing that happens during a Penumbral eclipse is a slight dimming of the Moon's surface.
A Partial lunar eclipse occurs when only some portion of the Moon enters the darkest place of the Earth's shadow, the umbra.
A Total lunar eclipse happens when the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon are completely aligned, and the whole Moon is within the umbra. This completely obscures the Moon for those who live on the hemisphere of the Earth where is nighttime.
What is a Blood Moon?
Sometimes during a Total lunar eclipse, the Full Moon takes on a reddish color because of the Sunlight that is refracted through the Earth's atmosphere. This is often called a Blood Moon, although it is not its scientific name.
This light filtering phenomenon is called the Rayleigh scattering, and it is the same astronomical mechanism that causes sunsets and sunrises to sometimes have a pink, orange, or red tint.
The Difference between Lunar and Solar Eclipses
Eclipses are determined by the orbits of the Earth around the Sun and the Moon around the Earth. When these three celestial bodies align, we have either a Lunar or a Solar Eclipse.
As explained, a Lunar Eclipse happens during a Full Moon, when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, casting a shadow on its natural satellite and obscuring it.
A Solar Eclipse occurs during the New Moon, when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, totally or partially obscuring the sunlight.
How to watch a Lunar Eclipse
Unlike Solar Eclipses, Lunar Eclipses are very easy to watch and you can do it through the naked eye, in some parts of the world.
To observe a total or partial Lunar Eclipse all you need are clear skies and an unobstructed view of the Moon. For this, try to stay away from city centres and urbanized areas, as the artificial lights make it difficult to have a clear view of the sky. Rural areas have the best conditions to watch a Lunar Eclipse.
You'll also need to be on the night-side of the Earth to be able to see the Lunar Eclipse.
While you don't need special equipment to observe a Lunar Eclipse, things like binoculars or a telescope can enhance your experience, as you'll be able to see the Moon's changes and features in more detail.