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Total Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon 2022: How to Watch

“Because it is happening at such a comfortable time, I would suggest trying to observe it from the beginning to the end,” Dr. Guhathakurta said.

Binoculars or a backyard telescope will help bring out the red color, she added. Viewers with access to such instruments should be able to watch Earth’s shadow pass over craters, valleys and mountains on the moon, and see such features take on that scarlet hue.

NASA’s Goddard center hosts maps and visualizations of both the moon during the eclipse and where on Earth the eclipse will be observable, so Dr. Guhathakurta suggested that those interested can acquaint themselves with details of the event beforehand and learn more about lunar topography.

Lunar eclipses occur when our planet comes between its two major heavenly companions, the sun and moon. Moonglow is actually reflected sunlight and so the lunar surface gradually darkens as the moon falls into Earth’s long shadow.

“When the moon goes into the shadow of the Earth, it should blackout and disappear,” Mr. Rao said. “Instead, it changes this eerie copper or reddish color.”

That’s because the Earth’s atmosphere is lensing sunlight around the edges of our planet. Everything other than the longest and reddest wavelengths are filtered out and the combined glow of all the world’s sunrises and sunsets gets projected on the otherwise gray moon.

If you were standing on the moon, you’d see the big black backlit plate of the Earth coming in front of the sun, Mr. Rao said. During totality, our planet would appear as a giant dark circle rimmed by a brilliant red ring, and the lunar surface around you would turn various shades of red, orange and brown.

NASA’s Surveyor III probe captured such a marvel on film during the April 24, 1967 lunar eclipse, but the resulting images are in black and white and extremely low resolution. But with many new missions headed to lunar orbit and the moon’s surface in the coming years, perhaps one of Earth’s robotic explorers will capture such a scene in color and high resolution.

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