A few times a year, Mother Nature goes out of her way to put on a spectacular display to offer us all some perspective about our relatively small place in the cosmos. One such occurrence is set to happen soon: the longest partial lunar eclipse of the 21st century will rise in the wee hours of Friday morning. And you, along with most of North America, should be able to catch sight of it if you stay up late enough.
"The eclipse will be visible from New York City—obviously it will be better viewed away from the city lights and light pollution, but even in the city it should be visible," said John Homenuk, co-founder of New York Metro Weather. "The eclipse begins at 1:02 a.m. and will reach maximum eclipse at 4:02 a.m."
According to NASA, it will last three hours, 28 minutes and 23 seconds, making it the longest one this century (the longest total eclipse, in comparison, lasted one hour, 42 minutes and 57 seconds in 2018). Space.com notes that this makes it the longest partial eclipse in 580 years.
A partial lunar eclipse occurs when the moon slips into Earth's shadow for a bit, while total lunar eclipses are when the moon is completely covered in Earth's shadow. The one tonight is right on the edge, with NASA calling it an "almost total" eclipse: while the whole thing won't pass into the Earth's umbra, up to 99.1% of the moon will do so.
As for what to call it: a total lunar eclipse is referred to as a "blood moon" because the moon looks red while submerged in the shadow of the Earth, and while tonight's eclipse is not quite 100% covered, it definitely will have that distinctive reddish glow. As CNN explains, the Earth's atmosphere scatters sunlight, which "will create the effect of a sunset projected onto the moon."
NPR notes that around 2:19 a.m. ET, the moon "will move into the umbra, the inner part of Earth's shadow, and begin to look like a chunk is missing from it. It will turn red around 3:45 a.m. ET."
The November full moon, regardless of eclipse, also has its own names: its called the Frost Moon or the Beaver Moon, a name assigned by Native Americans referring to the fact that beavers are preparing for winter around now.
So make sure you take a nap today, or set your alarm for the middle of the night, to get a glimpse of this Fully Frosted Beaver Moon Lunar Eclipse With A (Partial) Blood Moon Glow. If you can't see it outside your apartment, you can watch a livestream of the eclipse here. The NY Post says it will change your life forever, and who are we to disagree with that?