A “near-total” winter lunar eclipse to graze Western New York skies early Friday morning

Weather

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Calling all early risers and astronomy lovers alike! An almost total lunar eclipse will be gracing our winter skies at the end of this week. If you happen to be awake during the hours of 2:30 and 5:45 am on Friday morning, look up to the western sky and you’ll find a nearly total lunar eclipse as the full moon dips into the shadow of the earth.

Most locations will see up to 97% of the moon covered up by Earth’s shadow, and North America has the best location to see the entirety of the eclipse. This means Western New York will be getting in on the spectacle, weather permitting of course .

I talked to Steve Fentress, Director of the Strasenburgh Planetarium at the Rochester Museum and Science Center where he gave me a sense of what it could look like. 

“When the moon is in the shadow of the earth it usually has some orange or red or even brown color, you never really know exactly until the eclipse happens. It’s a strange and beautiful thing and um, we won’t have another one for another six months…”

Steve says this eclipse is for the hardcore fans, the ones who happen to be awake, and if there’s a break in the clouds, you don’t need any safety glasses or special equipment to view it. Just step outside, and look above the treeline, but remember to bundle up for the several hour long show.

“A lunar eclipse takes time, so this one the moon will start to enter the dark part of the earth’s shadow about 2:30 in the morning, so you’ll see a dark bite taken out one side of the moon’s disk   and it will be completely immersed, well close to completely immersed in the shadow at about 4 o clock, so it’s a slow process…”

Steve also says you should start watching the full moon earlier in the evening to see where it’s heading to get an idea on where to look. This will be the second and last lunar eclipse of 2021. The next one doesn’t occur until May 15th, 2022, and of course prep has already begun for the big total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024. 

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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