How to enjoy the Lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019: where and how to look at it
SPACE – On January 21st, from 3:36 am, the early birds will be able to enjoy a celestial spectacle : a total lunar eclipse. For five hours, the Earth will be placed between the Sun and the Moon , giving it an orange-red hue for a little over an hour.
The eclipse will not be as long as the previous one on July 27 , but it will be the last before May 2021, and even May 2022 so that this event is visible again from Europe.
Until 4:33, the Moon will be plunged into the darkness of the Earth. Then, at 5:41, the shadow of our planet will be displayed on the Moon. At 6:12, our satellite will be completely hidden from the Sun by the Earth, until 6:43.
A show that will be visible from beginning to end in northwestern France. The rest of the Hexagon will miss only the very end of the eclipse, nothing very serious. If you are elsewhere in the world, simply enter your address on the time and date website to know the phases of the eclipse that you can observe and at what time.
To enjoy the show, you have to get up early, but also plan the shot. First, check the weather. By looking at the forecasts.
But even if the clouds do not spoil the party, the best would be to leave the big cities and their light pollution to have a really nice sky to look at, filled with stars.
The easiest way to know where to go is to look at light pollution maps , for example on the Light pollution map website . The more the area is red, the less the stars are visible. The more blue it is, the fewer disturbing lights there are.
But what exactly are we going to see? A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are perfectly aligned. We hide the light of our star from our satellite. In the graph below , the white area is called penumbra. This means that some of the sunlight is hidden.
It is when the moon enters the red zone (called shadow) that the lunar eclipse really begins. But it does not disappear completely, Earth sky recalls . Instead, our satellite takes on a coppery hue, almost red. We speak of red moon, even of ” moon of blood “.
But why this color? Because the Earth does not block the light entirely. Part of it passes through the atmosphere, which will somehow break down the glow coming from the Sun. The white rays are “filtered” from their blue hues. All that remains are the red and orange colors, which are then reflected by the lunar dust, called regolith, towards the Earth.
Finally, there is one place where nobody will see the eclipse: from our satellite. Exactly, this is what an event seen by an astronaut on the moon would look like, according to a NASA concept: