A six-hour-long partial lunar eclipse—the longest lunar eclipse to occur within a span of 1,000 years—aligns with the full moon tonight into the early morning hours tomorrow. The last time a lengthy lunar eclipse took place was February 18, 1440, and the next longest lunar eclipse will not appear until February 8, 2669, reports Graham Jones for Time and Date.
Also known as a Frosty Moon or Beaver Moon, November’s full moon signals the beginning of the winter season. It is dubbed the Beaver Moon because traditionally, Native American hunters set traps for beavers during this time in the year to harvest their fur in preparation for winter, reports Passant Rabie for Inverse.
Total lunar eclipses happen when the Earth passes between the sun and the moon. Partial lunar eclipses occur when the Earth, sun, and moon are quite not lined up perfectly, so Earth’s shadow will only partly cover its natural satellite.
While technically only a partial eclipse, 97 percent of the moon will be covered by Earth’s shadow during the phenomenon’s peak. A tiny sliver of the moon will glow while the rest of it will appear a dim reddish-brown color characteristic of a lunar eclipse.
This eclipse’s duration is longer because the moon is near apogee, or at its furthest distance from the Earth, George Dvorsky reports for Gizmodo. The entire event will last about six hours from the moment the moon first enters Earth's shadow until it leaves.
The eclipse's peak will occur at 4:02 a.m. ET on Friday, November 19 and last for three hours and 28 minutes, the longest partial lunar eclipse of the century, Inverse reports. In comparison, the longest total eclipse of the century occurred on July 27, 2018, which lasted for 1 hour and 42 minutes, reports Michelle Robertson for SFGate.
Places with the best view of the show include North America, Australia, eastern Asia, and northern Europe, reports Fred Espenak for Earth Sky. South America and western Europe will also miss part of the celestial phenomenon because the moon will set before the eclipse ends. The event will not be visible in Africa, the Middle East, or western Asia.
And if you miss this one, a total eclipse will occur on May 15, 2022—though it won't last as long.