On the night of, February 20, 2008, look to the sky. You might not believe what you see. A total eclipse of the Moon (i.e. Lunar Eclipse) will provide a picturesque spectacle that won’t be repeated again until 2010.
Starting at 8:43 p.m. EST, the Moon, will pass into the Earth’s shadow and seem to darken or disappear A little more than an hour later, during the darkest phase of the eclipse, it will turn a coppery red
This remarkable site will be visible to roughly three billion people, residing in the Western Hemisphere, as well as most of Europe, western Asia and Africa.
“This total eclipse of the Moon is one for the record books,” reveals Joe Rao, Atronmer for the Farmers’ Almanac, which publishes an array of lunar charts in its annual publication and web site. “North America will be in the right place, at the right time to observe this incredible sight.”
He noted that the last lunar eclipse on August 28, 2007, was much more visible to those residing in Eastern Australia and New Zealand.
The Moon will enter the Earth’s umbral shadow at 8:43 p.m. EST and become totally immersed by 10:01 pm EST. Totality ends at 10:51, and the Moon will be completely free of the umbra at 12:09 a.m. (for other time zones, make the appropriate corrections).
During the totality phase of the eclipse(the period when the Moon is totally immersed within the Earth’s dark umbral shadow) the Moon will form a striking triangle configuration with both the bright star Regulus, and the planet Saturn; the only one of its kind occurring within the next millennium!
Saturn will be the bright yellowish-white “star” shining above and to the Moon’s left; and on the Moon’s upper right side will appear the bluish Regulus, which is one of the 21 brightest stars in the sky.
“But don’t worry, the moon won’t go totally dark,” Rao said.
Thanks to the combined light of all the sunrises and sunsets occurring around the world at the particular moment when the totality phase of the eclipse is happening, the Moon will appear to turn a coppery or reddish color.
Since the atmosphere acts like a lens and refracts or bends that ruddy light into the Earth’s dark shadow, the Moon will take on an ochre hue during the darkest phase of the eclipse. So instead of completely vanishing, the Moon will seem to hang in the sky, resembling an eerily illuminated mottled ball.