It’s a celestial event for the ages: Tonight (and early tomorrow morning) marks the first total lunar eclipse in two years.
Here in North America, we’re uniquely positioned for the best possible view on Earth, so pull out those extra layers, set up the folding chairs, and get ready for nature’s big show.
The best viewing times are from 1:32 to 2:40 a.m. and from 3:53 to 5:01 a.m., when the moon is moving in to and out of the earth’s shadow. It’s then it makes that crescent shape we all expect out of a good eclipse.
Important information to know:
What is a lunar eclipse, exactly? In case it’s been awhile since your 4th grade astronomy lesson, Mr. Eclipse offers an easy-to-read, user-friendly, eclipses-for-dummies summary.
The earliest hours of Tuesday morning are best for viewers here in the Delaware Valley, but just in case you wanted to check out the best times to watch for those in ours and other time zones, Space.com has you covered.
The coolest way to watch? With the rest of the world. NASA has set up an interactive map of eclipse-watchers. Send them your cell number, and they’ll add you, too. They say you can you can “find others who are watching in your area, view comments and updates, check the weather, and explore more resources, including links to our lunar eclipse Flickr group, moon-themed blogs, sky maps and moon phases.”
If the world-wide, on-line astronomical community proves a bit much for you, you can forge a local connection. It seems that astronomyclubs.com has a pretty comprehensive list of astronomy clubs – local groups include the Delaware Valley Amateur Astronomers (DVAA).
I’m sorry to report that I couldn’t find any local watch parties for you, though.
Why? Well, as Marilyn Michalski, Program director for the DVAA says, “It’s too cold. And it’s a work and school night.”
“Here’s the bottom line,” she says. “You will be able to see the totality stage from any home that has a view of the moon. You can go out in your backyard, look up, find the moon, and you’ll be able to see it. Plus, you can go back into your home and get warm.”