Total Lunar Eclipse Before Dawn October 8th

Contact:
Alan MacRobert, Senior Editor
617-864-7360 x2151, macrobert@SkyandTelescope.com
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J. Kelly Beatty, Senior Contributing Editor
617-416-9991, jkellybeatty@comcast.net

Note to Editors/Producers: This release is accompanied by high-quality graphics and animations; see the end of this release. For more information, please direct your readers/viewers to our online story about the eclipse.

For the second time this year, North Americans will have an opportunity to see a total eclipse of the Moon. But this one favors night owls and early-risers, because the full Moon passes through the umbra — the dark inner part of Earth's shadow — well after midnight on the morning of October 8th for the four main U.S. time zones. In many areas the eclipse happens as dawn is brightening.

The timetable below tells what to expect and when. The eclipse will also be visible from western South America and much of the Pacific. Viewers in Australia and eastern Asia get to view this event on the evening of October 8th.

Total Eclipse of the Moon, October 8, 2014
Eclipse event     UT (GMT)     EDT     CDT     MDT     PDT
Penumbra first visible?   8:45 4:45 a.m. 3:45 a.m 2:45 a.m. 1:45 a.m.
Partial eclipse begins   9:15 5:15 a.m. 4:15 a.m. 3:15 a.m. 2:15 a.m.
Total eclipse begins 10:25 6:25 a.m. 5:25 a.m. 4:25 a.m. 3:25 a.m.
Mid-eclipse 10:55 6:55 a.m. 5:55 a.m 4:55 a.m. 3:55 a.m.
Total eclipse ends 11:24 7:24 a.m. 6:24 a.m. 5:24 a.m. 4:24 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends 12:34 7:34 a.m. 6:34 a.m. 5:34 a.m.
Penumbra last visible? 13:05 7:05 a.m. 6:05 a.m.

What to Look For

A total lunar eclipse has five stages, with different things to watch at each:

Penumbral eclipse: Shading starts to occur when the Moon's leading edge moves into Earth's penumbra, the pale outer fringe of Earth's shadow. But initially the effect is weak — you won't start to see a dusky shading on the Moon's left-facing side (celestial east) until the Moon intrudes about halfway across the penumbra. As the Moon glides deeper in, the shading becomes much more obvious.

Partial eclipse: More dramatic is the Moon's entrance into the umbra, where no direct sunlight reaches the lunar surface. Few sights in astronomy are more eerie and impressive than watching this red-black shadow creeping, minute by minute, across the bright lunar landscape, slowly engulfing one marking after another. As more of the Moon slides into the umbra, more stars appear in what had been a full-Moon-washed sky. An hour or so into partial eclipse, only a final bright sliver remains outside the umbra, and the rest of the Moon is already showing an eerie reddish glow.

From Simi Valley, California, December 2011's totally eclipsed Moon hung just a few degrees above the western horizon. The southern half (lower left) of the disk, nearest the umbra's outer edge,  is relatively bright. S&T: J. Kelly Beatty

From Simi Valley, California, December 2011's totally eclipsed Moon hung just a few degrees above the western horizon. The southern half (lower left) of the disk, nearest the umbra's outer edge, is relatively bright.
Sky & Telescope / J. Kelly Beatty

Total eclipse: From the Moon's perspective, the Sun remains completely hidden behind Earth for 59 minutes. From Earth's perspective, the lunar disk isn't completely blacked out but instead remains dimly lit by a deep orange or red glow. That's because Earth's atmosphere scatters and refracts (bends) sunlight that grazes the rim of our globe, and some of this light continues on toward the Moon. For an astronaut standing on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse, the situation would be obvious. The edge of the Earth would shine brilliant orange-red with the light of all the world's sunrises and sunsets happening at the time, and this light would be bright enough to cast a dim red glow on the lunar landscape at the astronaut's feet.

During this particular eclipse, the Moon crosses somewhat north of the umbra's center. So expect the northern half of the lunar disk, the side nearest the umbra's outer edge, to look somewhat brighter and the southern half somewhat darker.

Along most of the East Coast the Moon will sink low in the west, with dawn brightening, while the total eclipse is in progress. The brightening sky will make it increasingly difficult to spot the dim lunar disk. The Moon will set right around the time of sunrise.

Partial eclipse returns: Totality ends once the Moon's leading limb peeks back into direct sunlight, and after that events unfold in reverse order. If you're using binoculars or a small telescope to view the eclipse, watch as lunar features slide back into the direct sunlight. For most North American locations in the Central time zone, the Moon will set and the Sun will rise during this second partial phase of the eclipse.

Penumbral eclipse fades away: When all of the Moon has escaped the umbra, only the last, penumbral shading is left. This final duskiness gradually fades away, leaving the full Moon shining as bright as ever — for regions where it hasn't yet set.

Second in a Series

This is the second of four total lunar eclipses occurring in 2014–15 about six months apart. The third occurs next year on April 4th, and the final one on the night of September 27–28, 2015. Such eclipse tetrads are uncommon — the last one happened a decade ago, but the next won't begin until 2032.

In the following two weeks the Moon will travel halfway around its orbit, and on October 23rd it will line up directly between the Sun on Earth. On that day virtually everyone in North America will experience a partial solar eclipse.

For more skywatching information and other astronomy news, visit SkyandTelescope.com or pick up Sky & Telescope, the essential magazine of astronomy since 1941.


Sky & Telescope is making the photographs below available to editors and producers. Permission is granted for one-time, nonexclusive use in print and broadcast media, as long as appropriate credits (as noted) are included. Web publication must include a link to SkyandTelescope.com.


2004 lunar eclipse

Taking a break from Game 4 of the World Series on October 27, 2004, Rick Fienberg snapped this view of that evening's total eclipse of the Moon.
Sky & Telescope / Richard Tresch Fienberg

The Moon’s progress dead center through the Earth’s shadow in July 2000.

Aligning his camera on the same star for nine successive exposures, Sky & Telescope contributing photographer Akira Fujii captured this record of the Moon’s progress dead center through the Earth’s shadow in July 2000.
Sky & Telescope / Akira Fujii

Where to see October 8th's total lunar eclipse

Use this map to determine whether the Moon sets or rises during any stage of October's eclipse for your location. Because an eclipsed Moon is always full, moonset or moonrise happens in a very bright sky right around sunrise or sunset.
Sky & Telescope illustration

This still frame is from a 10-second-long animation showing the Moon's motion through Earth's shadow during the eclipse on October 8, 2014. This animation has no time labels. Versions with a timeline are available for the following time zones: PDT, MDT, CDT, EDT. MP2 versions and longer (slower) versions are available on request.
Larry Koehn / Sky & Telescope

October 8th's lunar eclipse (UT version)

Events for the total lunar eclipse on October 8, 2014. This version is labeled in Universal Time. Other versions are available for the following time zones: PDT, MDT, CDT, and EDT. Due to the Moon's off-center path through Earth's umbra, the northern half of its disk should look brighter during totality than the southern half.
Sky & Telescope illustration