Total Lunar Eclipse This Weekend Says NASA

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The total eclipse is expected to last just five minutes according to NASA. Readers in Eastern North America and western South America will be able to observe the event before sunrise, while those in Asia, Australia and New Zealand should keep their eyes on the sky after sunset. Unfortunately, residents of Europe, Africa and the Middle East will not be able to observe the event, writes Claire Felter for the Christian Science Monitor.

“Blood moon” as Earth blocks light

Unlike a total solar eclipse, you do not need any special equipment to watch the event in safety, because there is no risk of receiving direct radiation. You’ll have to be quick to catch it though.

This weekend’s eclipse provides the perfect opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of the technical terms which describe the different stages of the event. The first stage, the penumbra, is not usually visible to the naked eye, and refers to when the moment when Earth only partially blocks the sunlight that usually hits the moon.

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The umbra stage begins when the Earth completely blocks that light, and at this moment the moon is known as a “blood moon,” due to the fact that it takes on deep red and orange hues. The moon appears to change color because of the refraction of light as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere.

Part of rare lunar tetrad

Not only will the total lunar eclipse of April 4 be the shortest of the century, it is part of a rare sequence of eclipses called a lunar tetrad. A tetrad is a sequence of four total lunar eclipses which occur at intervals of roughly six months. The final eclipse of the tetrad is predicted to occur on September 8 of this year, and only eight tetrads will take place in this century.

Take up positions outside and look to the southwest after checking the timing of the event in your area on this map. If poor visibility clouds your view, watch online at the Virtual Telescope Project  or SLOOH, both of which will be streaming the event live.

Stargazers across a large swathe of the Earth’s surface are set for a spectacular, if short-lived, show.