Ask an Astronomer About the Shortest Lunar Eclipse of the Century on April 4

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Ask an Astronomer About the Shortest Lunar Eclipse of the Century on April 4

This image shows the Dec. 20, 2012 total lunar eclipse, as seen from Sagamihara, Japan. On Saturday morning, April 4, 2015 not long before sunrise, the bright full moon over North America should turn a lovely shade of celestial red during a total lunar eclipse.

The lunar eclipse will be visible from all parts of the United States.  Eastern North America and western South America can see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise April 4, whereas middle Asia (India, western China, mid-Asian Russia) can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset April 4. Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Africa and the Middle East won’t see this eclipse at all. A world map of eclipse visibility is available here. The total eclipse will last only five minutes.

This eclipse marks the third in a series of four lunar eclipses in a row, known as a "tetrad."  The first in the series occurred on April 15, 2014, with the second in the tetrad of eclipses in September of 2014, and the final will be September 28, 2015.

For a total lunar eclipse to happen, the Moon must be full, which means it is directly opposite the Sun, with Earth in between.  The eclipse happens when the Moon moves into the shadow cast by the Sun shining on Earth.  We don't have an eclipse every   month because sometimes the Moon is above the shadow, sometimes below. 

During the eclipse, the Moon often looks reddish because sunlight has passed through Earth's atmosphere, which filters out most of its blue light.  This eerie, harmless effect has earned the tongue-in-cheek nickname "blood moon."

A telescope is not needed to view a lunar eclipse-- just find the Moon in the sky and enjoy.   

Ask NASA Astronomers Questions about the Eclipse:

On April 4, NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams will take questions via Twitter @NASA_Marshall. For Twitter questions, use the hashtag #eclipse2015. The question and answer via twitter will begin at 6 a.m.EDT and continue through the end of the eclipse (approximately 8:00 a.m. EDT on April 4).

Timeline of eclipse on April 4

Lunar Eclipse, April 4, 2015 Eastern Daylight Time, *a.m.)  Universal Time
Partial eclipse begins 6:16 EDT 10:15:45 UT
Totality begins 7:58 EDT 11:57:54 UT
Greatest eclipse 8:00 EDT 12:00:15 UT
Totality ends 8:03 EDT 12:02:37 UT
Partial eclipse ends 9:45 EDT 13:44:46 UT

6:53 EDT for Wash., D.C.
6:34 CDT for HSV, AL
7:13         for Houston
6:15 MST for Tucson
6:44 PDT for Los Angeles

Handy Links:

Use this handy time conversion tool to convert to your local time.

A live Ustream view of the lunar eclipse will be available here on April 4 starting at 6:00 a.m. EDT: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc


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Page Last Updated: April 3rd, 2015
Page Editor: Lee Mohon