The longest total lunar eclipse in a decade will occur today, June 15th. During the eclipse, the Earth's shadow will completely cover the Moon for one hour and 40 minutes and partially cover it for three hours and 40 minutes. The path that the Moon is taking through Earth's shadow is almost directly through the shadow's center, making for the longest possible path and therefor the longest duration. On June 15, Earth's shadow will start to darken the moon at 18:23 universal time (UT) (2:22 p.m. Eastern Time).
Partial eclipse begins: 18:23 UT
Total eclipse begins: 19:23 UT
Greatest eclipse: 20:13 UT
Total eclipse ends: 21:03 UT
Partial eclipse ends: 22:02 UT
During this time, stargazers have a rare opportunity to catch the eerie orange-red glow radiating from the moon and darkening much of the Eastern Hemisphere. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth blocks the direct light from the sun. But, some indirect light passing through Earth's atmosphere still manages to reach the moon and, due to Earth's atmosphere, the remaining light is reddened.
It will be completely visible over Africa, and Central Asia, visible rising over South America, western Africa, and Europe, and setting over eastern Asia. In western Asia, Australia and the Philippines, the lunar eclipse will be visible just before sunrise.
The cycle of a total lunar eclipse. (REUTERS/Henry Romero)
The best places to observe this total lunar eclipse will be the Indian Ocean and subcontinent, Eastern Africa, extreme western Australia, and the Mideast. For observers in China, southeastern parts of Asia, and most of Australia, the Moon will set while the eclipse is in progress, so these observers will be able to see the early parts of the eclipse. The Moon will rise while the eclipse is in progress for observers in western Africa, Europe, and most of South America.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are totally safe to watch, so find a clear spot outside and look up!
The best advice for sky-watchers is to get away from city light pollution as much as possible and go to places where there are no trees or houses blocking your view. A nearby park or field can be a great place to lay down a blanket, but the best views can be seen from a higher elevation. If you can, take a hike and get to higher ground.
Don't miss this awesome and unforgettable sight!