BLOG: What happened to the Lunar Eclipse? - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: What happened to the Lunar Eclipse?


I received a few emails from viewers this past week asking why they could not see the lunar eclipse they went out to watch last Friday evening.  I didn’t mention it in any of my broadcasts because I knew it would be hardly noticeable.  Hardly noticeable?  Since when is an eclipse hardly noticeable?

Well, it does happen. When the moon passes behind the earth during its monthly orbit, there are three possibilities. One, it misses the earth’s shadow entirely. Two, it only passes through the earth’s outer shadow (Penumbra) or three, it passes through earth’s inner shadow (Umbra).

In this case, the earth only passed through the earth’s penumbra, and you have to be looking really closely to see the slight dimming of the moon’s surface.  Casual onlookers will not notice a change. See the first image for a diagram on the earth’s outer shadow.

When the moon passes through the earth’s umbra, now we’re talking about a real event!  This is when you can watch the moon descend into real darkness.  See the second image for a diagram on the earth’s inner shadow.

Unfortunately, we won’t see a total lunar eclipse around here again until January 20th, 2019.  It will get underway around 10:30 p.m local time reaching totality around 11:40 p.m.

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