Catch the Total Lunar Eclipse on April 4th

TLE

This April 4th, 2015, most of North America, South America, Asia, and parts of Australia will be able to view a Total Lunar Eclipse.  The moon will be eclipsed in totality for about 5 minutes.  The entire event will take place, from beginning to end, for 3 hours and 29 minutes.

This will be the third eclipse in the 2014-2015 tetrad and it will be the shortest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century.

In North American time zones, the best time to catch this eclipse is before sunrise on April 4–the morning of April 4th, not the evening.  For the world’s Eastern Hemisphere–East Asia, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia–the greatest eclipse takes place after sunset on April 4.

eclipse-lunar-4-4-2015-Larry-shadowandsubstance

You have to be on the night side of Earth while the lunar eclipse is taking place to witness this natural phenomenon.  People around the world always want to know whether the eclipse is visible from their home and at what time.  To find out the local time of the greatest eclipse in your sky, click on this eclipse calculator and put in the name of a city near you.  No time conversion is necessary because the eclipse times are given in local time.

eclipse-lunar-4-4-2015-CDT

Animation_April_4_2015_lunar_eclipse_appearanceHere is an animation of how the 2015 April 4 total lunar eclipse will look.

The moon travels eastward through the Earth’s penumbra (light outside shadow) and umbra (dark inner shadow) shadow.

The yellow line depicts the ecliptic–Earth’s orbital plane.

Although the moon, in part, spends about 3.5 hours within the umbra, it is only in totality in the umbra (dark shadow) for a short while, or less than 5 minutes.

Depending on the algorithm you use, the April 4 lunar eclipse can be regarded as a very shallow total lunar eclipse or a very deep partial lunar eclipse.  Experts agree that the April 4 eclipse is a total eclipse but only of a very short duration, qualifying it for a Blood Moon.

But what causes a lunar eclipse?
moon-orbit-diagramA lunar eclipse can only happen during a full moon because only then is the moon directly opposite the sun in our sky, passing into the Earth’s dark umbral shadow.  Most of the time, the moon avoids going into eclipse by swinging north or south of the Earth’s shadow.  For example, in March the full moon swung south of the Earth’s shadow–in May it will swing just north of the Earth’s shadow.
The Moon and Earth are not in perfect alignment, as you’ll see in the graphic to the right.  For the most part we’re seeing the moon in the up or downswing as it passes along into the ascending and descending nodes of travel.  We see an eclipse when the full moon closely coincides with one of its nodes.

Here are the North American eclipse times:

Eclipse times in Universal Time.

Partial umbral eclipse begins: 10:16 Universal Time (UT)
Total eclipse begins: 11:58 UT
Greatest eclipse: 12:00 UT
Total eclipse ends: 12:03 UT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 13:45 UT

How do I translate Universal Time to my time?

Eclipse times for for North American time zones.

Eastern Daylight Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 6:16 a.m. EDT
Moon sets before start of total eclipse

Central Daylight Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 5:16 a.m. CDT
Total eclipse begins: 6:58 a.m. CDT
Greatest eclipse: 7:00 a.m. CDT
Total eclipse ends: 7:03 a.m. CDT
Moon may set before start of total eclipse

Mountain Daylight Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 4:16 a.m. MDT
Total eclipse begins: 5:58 a.m. MDT
Greatest eclipse: 6:00 a.m. MDT
Total eclipse ends: 6:03 a.m. MDT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 7:45 a.m. MDT
Moon sets before end of partial umbral eclipse

Pacific Daylight Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 3:16 a.m. PDT
Total eclipse begins: 4:58 a.m. PDT
Greatest eclipse: 5:00 a.m. PDT
Total eclipse ends: 5:03 a.m. PDT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 6:45 a.m. PDT
Moon may set before end of partial umbral eclipse

Alaskan Daylight Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 2:16 a.m. AKDT
Total eclipse begins: 3:58 a.m. AKDT
Greatest eclipse: 4:00 a.m. AKDT
Total eclipse ends: 4:03 a.m. AKDT
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 5:45 a.m. AKDT

Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time (April 4, 2015)
Partial umbral eclipse begins: 12:16 a.m. HAST
Total eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. HAST
Greatest eclipse: 2:00 a.m. HAST
Total eclipse ends: 2:03 a.m. HAST
Partial umbral eclipse ends: 3:45 a.m. HAST

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