ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Wednesday just before sunrise, the full flower Supermoon produced a lunar eclipse for many across the Americas. A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth passes between the sun and moon, and earth’s shadow is cast over the moon when aligned just right.
Here in North America, the western half got the best view of this celestial spectacle, but on the eastern half we got a different story. We only got to see a penumbral lunar eclipse. This occurs when the moon only moves through the faint, outer part of the Earth’s shadow known as the penumbra. In order to get a total lunar eclipse, the moon not only must pass through the darkest part of Earth’s shadow known as the umbra, but you have to be in just the right place on Earth to see it. Earth’s shadow doesn’t consist of a sudden light vs. dark. The outer shadow is relatively faint while the inner core of the shadow is deeper, changing the color of the moon.
In our case, the moon had set below the horizon just before we could see it pass through Earth’s umbra. Therefore, we merely saw the full moon dim in our area as a result. See Meteorologist Christine Gregory’s full explanation in the video clip above.
If you’d like, try the experiment yourself at home!
We missed out this time, so when’s the next lunar eclipse we’ll be able to see?
On November 18th-19th, 2021 a partial (but very close to total) lunar eclipse will take place in our night sky. Even though it’s a partial lunar eclipse, most of the moon will end up being covered in Earth’s umbra. Most of the moon will go dark and/or turn a shade of burnt red in the process, so this one will be a much better show for us locally. It may be cold and you may have to wake up at a very early hour to see it by the time this rolls around, but it may all be worth it to see this unique celestial event. Get more information about this lunar eclipse in Rochester HERE.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory