Space lovers, rejoice! Only one more chance to get an opportunity to watch a partial lunar eclipse where you can see a lunar surface luminous in the equal parts blood and yellow. But this moon has at least one secret weapon to get us fully converted to an unadulterated freak-out.
Set your alarms now. It’s going to be a good Tuesday night to catch a rare glimpse of the beginning of a giant blood moon.
If the idea of a blood moon makes you queasy, simply adjust your expectations. It isn’t going to be dark so deep, or the deepest tan that ever came out of your barbecue grill. Also, don’t expect to see a cataclysmic event unfold behind you on the east coast, as happened in some backwater states in 1919. Instead, you can expect to see a dark moon cast its shadow on the earth and create a blood moon effect as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere and returns back out. The eclipse will be visible in the western half of the USA and Canada, and across a part of the Pacific Ocean. If you miss it, you’ll have to wait until November 2033 to witness it again.
For more detailed information on the eclipse, you can try NASA’s website. While you’re at it, check out their Cosmic Clock, a webpage that provides approximate times for two astronomical events: total solar eclipse and total lunar eclipse. Not only will the eclipse affect your watch time, but also the whole day on Tuesday – the total solar eclipse will cast a black line across the sun – meaning that the sun will cast a shadow on the earth for 26 minutes as it moves between the Earth and the sun. If the eclipse can’t begin in the middle of the day, it will begin at the end of the day. In most cases, the moon is so big that the delay means that the shadow phase will end before the sun reaches full phase. In the Pacific area, the eclipse will be later and redder than it will be elsewhere because the eclipse will occur during a phase of the moon called the Eta Aquarid meteor shower. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the crescent moon in the broad, toothy, ever-hazy wash of light that is the meteor shower. The moon will reach its full phase on Tuesday night, meaning that you’ll have another chance to see a total lunar eclipse in November, and a perfect backdrop for stargazing.
• This article was amended on 25 July 2018 to clarify the eclipse’s location and what part of the US it will be visible from.