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Upcoming Lunar Eclipse on October 8, 2014

"Blood Moon" Lunar Eclipse

By Dr. Lisa Will

If you stay up past midnight on Tuesday, October 7, and into the wee hours of Wednesday, you might be lucky enough to see a total lunar eclipse.

The eclipse will start shortly after 1 a.m. and continue until sunrise. The Moon will be in partial eclipse for most of that time, with the total lunar eclipse occurring sometime between 3:30 and 4:30 a.m.

The Moon doesn’t always appear completely dark during a total lunar eclipse. It can appear golden to deep red in color, leading some to refer to it as a “blood moon.” The cause of this coloration is not so ominous. The reason for the red coloration has to do with sunlight filtering through the Earth’s atmosphere before it falls on the Moon. On the occasion of “blood moons,” the sunlight is filtering through regions of the Earth that are currently experiencing a sunrise or a sunset. It is the hue from the atmosphere at these moments that carries over to the coloration of the total lunar eclipse. In many ways you’ll be experiencing the sunset twice that day. Once on Earth and once for the Moon. Lovely, don’t you think?

No special equipment is necessary to observe a lunar eclipse. For viewing in San Diego, the Moon will be in the Western part of the sky. The long-range forecast is predicting partly cloudy skies, so it is possible the marine layer may obscure your view. Serious Moon watchers may be able to improve their chances by venturing out into the drier climes of East County.