A lunar eclipse only happens a few times a year -- if we are lucky! A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the sun and the moon. That causes the Earth's shadow to be cast upon the moon. When this happens, the moons surface looks dark gray or even red from time to time.

Coming up very early on Friday morning, November19th, will be the longest partial lunar eclipse in the last 580 years.

Why is this the longest partial lunar eclipse in 580 years?

I'm going to get a little technical for you, but here it goes. It's because the moon is in a MicroMoon state. That means it is at its furthest distance from the Earth. In this situation, the Moon moves slower in orbit, allowing it to be in the Earth's shadow longer. During this partial lunar eclipse, the Earth's shadow will cover about 97% of the moon!

When does it happen?

The eclipse begins at 1:02 am. This is called the “penumbral eclipse”. The partial eclipse -- when the Earth's shadow starts to be cast over the moon --starts at 2:18 am. The moon will then get darker for an hour and 46 minutes until the eclipse is at its maximum at 4:02 am. You will be able to see the partial lunar eclipse until 5:47 am if the weather cooperates. From the start to the end, the partial eclipse will last 3 hours and 29 minutes, but the total eclipse will last 6 hours and 1 minute. (Most lunar eclipses only last about half of that time.)

Will the weather cooperate?

According to our meteorologist friends at Fox 17... "Mostly clear to partly cloudy skies are anticipated, along with the small chance for some lake effect snow. While a few clouds will be around, most of West Michigan should still get a good view."

What if I miss this one?

The next total lunar eclipse that will be visible in West Michigan will happen May 15th into the 16th of 2022. That eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse. It will occur a little earlier in the night -- just after midnight.

 

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