Much cooler and drier air continues to move into the ArkLaTex. Sunshine returned to the area Thursday afternoon and we will remain clear during the night. The timing of the dry air is perfect if you want to view a lunar eclipse.
A lunar eclipse occurs with the earth passes between the sun and the moon and casts a shadow on the moon. You might think that the moon would go completely dark as happens in spots during a total eclipse of the sun. That is not the case. Instead, the earth’s hard shadow will give the moon a dark red appearance.
The eclipse will begin as the earth’s soft shadow touches the moon giving it a slightly dimmed appearance that will gradually grow. The is called the penumbral stage. As the earth’s hard shadow moves over the moon, it will begin to turn a reddish color. This reddish color will grow as more and more of the moon’s surface is covered by the earth’s hard shadow. Tonight’s eclipse will not be total but it will be close as 97% of the moon will be in earth’s shadow.
The penumbral stage of the eclipse will begin shortly after midnight. The partial eclipse will begin at 1:19 am and the moon will begin to turn red. The eclipse will reach its peak shortly after 3 a.m. and then the red coloring of the moon’s surface will begin to decrease until shortly before 5 a.mm when the partial eclipse will end. The moon will emerge from the earth’s soft shadow shortly after 6 a.m., marking the end of the eclipse.
It’s been a while since we have witnessed a lunar eclipse that will be this long, as this eclipse will be the longest that we have seen in 580 years! If you plan on heading outside to check it out, you will need to bundle up. Temperatures tonight will likely be in the 30s. Enjoy!