Beaver Blood Moon: Here are some key facts about the upcoming celestial display, which coincides with Election Day in the United States, as well as about lunar eclipses in general.
Weather permitting, nighttime skywatchers from East Asia to North America will be treated to the rare spectacle of a “Beaver blood moon” on Tuesday, as the Earth, moon, and sun align to produce a total lunar eclipse for the last time until 2025.
Here are some key facts about the upcoming celestial display, which will coincide with Election Day in the United States, as well as about lunar eclipses in general.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth completely casts its shadow over a full moon, blocking all direct sunlight from the lunar orb and dimming the moon’s color to a reddish hue, hence the term “blood moon.”
This is only possible when the Earth’s, moon’s, and sun’s orbits align so that the moon is directly behind Earth in relation to the sun. Otherwise, because the moon’s orbit around Earth is usually tilted relative to Earth’s orbit around the sun, it passes above or below Earth’s shadow.
Why is it red?
The reddish appearance of the lunar surface – the moon does not completely disappear from view – is caused by rays of sunlight filtered and refracted as they pass through Earth’s atmosphere, bathing the moon indirectly in a dim copper glow.
The degree of redness is determined by atmospheric conditions such as air pollution, dust storms, wildfire smoke, and even volcanic ash.
According to NASA, total lunar eclipses occur about once every year and a half. However, the interval varies. The blood moon on Tuesday will be the second of the year, following one in mid-May. The next one isn’t scheduled to happen until March 14, 2025.
Where can it be seen?
The eclipse will be visible from eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific, and North America on Tuesday. Skywatchers in Asia and Australia will see it during the evening moonrise, while observers in North America will see it in the early morning hours before the moon sets. It will be visible to the naked eye in those areas where the skies are clear.
How long does it last?
The eclipse will last nearly six hours as the moon gradually edges into the Earth’s paler, outer shadow, or “penumbra,” then into the Earth’s darker, inner shadow, or “umbra,” before reaching totality and emerging from the other side.
The entire display will last from 12:01 a.m. PST until just before 6 a.m. PST on the West Coast of the United States, with the total eclipse phase lasting about 90 minutes and peaking at 3 a.m. PST.
Why does Beaver moon?
The event on Tuesday will coincide with the “Beaver Moon,” a name given to the full moon in November by the Old Farmer’s Almanac based on Algonquian languages once spoken by Native Americans in the New England territory. When combined with the phenomenon of a total lunar eclipse, it is commonly referred to in the United States as a “Beaver blood moon.”