We can’t hold it against you if you slept through the most recent partial lunar eclipse.
In New York City, a full, brilliant moon rose over the city around 4:35 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, bringing generally clear skies and a comfortable night’s sleep with it. The eclipse reached its peak around 4:03 a.m. local time, although a storm and freezing weather may have deterred many people from getting up to see it at that time.
Many photographers, on the other hand, stayed up late in other areas of the globe where the sky remained clear to capture the vista. With the moon tinted rusty red, their photographs captured the eclipse in all its full — or at least partial — beauty, as seen from Earth.
An eclipse of the moon happens when the Earth passes between the moon and the sun, causing the moon to seem dark. Because our planet’s atmosphere works as a filter for sunlight, the shadow that our planet throws on the moon seems to be similar to the light seen at sunset on the Earth.
Unlike other eclipses in recent history, this one was very long, lasting more than six hours from beginning to end. Other recent lunar eclipses have occurred more swiftly than usual due to the moon’s proximity to Earth in its orbit at the time. However, since the moon’s orbit is elliptical and it is presently nearing its maximum distance from us, it took longer for it to pass through the shadow cast by the Earth. The last time a partial eclipse of this length happened was in the fourteenth century.
Another eclipse of this magnitude will not occur for many years, but there will be others to enjoy in the meantime. On May 15, a complete lunar eclipse will occur, which will be visible to spectators on the East Coast.
Subscribe to The Times’ space and astronomy calendar to be reminded of this and other important events in space and astronomy. Take a look at some photographs from yesterday night’s meeting while you wait.