On the night of September 27–28, the full Moon will slide completely through Earth's shadow for the last time until January 2018.
|Watch the eclipse live! Our exclusive webcast begins Sunday night, September 27th, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (1:00 Universal Time on the 28th). Watch our streaming high-definition coverage as the Moon glides into and out of Earth's deep umbral shadow, and hear commentary by lunar experts!|
If your skies are clear after the Sun sets on Sunday, September 27th, be sure to head outside to see the total lunar eclipse that happens that night. This will mark the end of a "tetrad" of four total lunar eclipses spaced a half year apart that began back in early 2014. But, perhaps more importantly, it's the last one visible anywhere until 2018.
Observers in the eastern half of North America can watch every stage of the eclipse, from beginning to end of the partial phases (31⁄3 hours in all) during convenient hours of late twilight or darkness with the Moon mostly high in the sky. If you're in the Far West, the first partial stage of the eclipse is already in progress when the Moon rises (due east) around the time of sunset. Those in Europe and Africa see the eclipse on the local morning of the 28th.
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Prepare for September's total lunar eclipse with our free ebook. In an article reprinted from the September issue of Sky & Telescope, you'll get the exact times for each stage of the eclipse, learn what to look for as Earth's shadow passes over the Moon, and find out why the Moon turns red at totality. Plus, learn your way around the Moon (eclipsed or not) with a bonus Moon map, which includes almost 300 labeled craters and other lunar features.
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Unlike the lunar eclipse last April 4th, which might not even have been precisely total, this one will carry the Moon through the umbra — the dark core of Earth's shadow — for 1 hour and 12 minutes. Moreover, it's a big eclipsed Moon! The closest lunar perigee of 2015 occurs just 59 minutes before mid-eclipse. The Moon (in Pisces) will appear 13% larger in diameter than it did when eclipsed last April. That's not enough for anyone but a devoted Moon watcher to really notice, but for a spectacle like a lunar eclipse, every little bit helps.
See the diagram above for key times during the eclipse, given in Universal Time (GMT). Here's the schedule for the main time zones in North America:
|Key Times for Total Lunar Eclipse, Sept. 27–28, 2015|
|Eclipse event||UT (GMT)
|Penumbra first visible?||00:40||8:40 p.m.||7:40 p.m.||—||—|
|Partial eclipse begins||01:07||9:07 p.m.||8:07 p.m.||7:07 p.m.||—|
|Total eclipse begins||02:11||10:11 p.m.||9:11 p.m.||8:11 p.m.||7:11 p.m.|
|Mid-eclipse||02:47||10:47 p.m.||9:47 p.m.||8:47 p.m.||7:47 p.m.|
|Total eclipse ends||03:23||11:23 p.m.||10:23 p.m.||9:23 p.m.||8:23 p.m.|
|Partial eclipse ends||04:27||12:27 a.m.||11:27 p.m.||10:27 p.m.||9:27 p.m.|
|Penumbra last visible?||04:55||12:55 a.m.||11:55 p.m.||10:55 p.m.||9:55 p.m.|
The events that happen to a shadowed Moon are more complex and interesting than many people realize. For example, you can look for the first vestiges of shading on the Moon's southeastern side (at lower left if seen from the U.S.) about 30 to 45 minutes before the lunar disk begins its dip into the umbra. This duskiness intensifies as the Moon slides deeper into Earth's penumbra. An astronaut standing on the Moon would see Earth covering only part of the Sun's face.
This month's total lunar eclipse, with its wide visibility, convenient evening schedule, and record size, is going to get a lot of publicity. In fact, no matter where you are in the world — or if your sky is cloudy! — you can watch the slow progression of this dramatic celestial event via Sky & Telescope's real-time webcast.