NORTH CAROLINA -- The only total lunar eclipse of 2019 will occur this weekend from late Sunday night into the very early morning hours of Monday.
During that time, the sun, moon, and earth will be in alignment. The earth will cast a shadow on the moon causing the total eclipse.
- The full moon will turn a reddish color starting just before midnight Sunday night.
- No special equipment is needed to view a lunar eclipse.
- Skies should be clear or mostly clear for viewing the eclipse in North Carolina, but it will be windy and quite cold.
A lunar eclipse is often referred to as a "blood moon" because the moon will turn a reddish color. This occurs because of light shining through the earth's atmosphere. As NASA explains, "As sunlight passes through it, the small molecules that make up our atmosphere scatter blue light, which is why the sky appears blue. This leaves behind mostly red light that bends, or refracts, into earth’s shadow. We can see the red light during an eclipse as it falls onto the moon in earth’s shadow. This same effect is what gives sunrises and sunsets a reddish-orange color."
This total lunar eclipse will also occur during a "super moon." That is when a full moon is near its closest point to the earth's orbit. A super moon appears larger in the sky than other full moons.
The total lunar eclipse will occur over North Carolina from Sunday 11:43 p.m. to Monday 12:43 a.m. with the maximum eclipse just a little while after midnight.
Unlike a solar eclipse, no special equipment is needed to view a lunar eclipse. It can be seen safely with the naked eye.
However, you will want your winter coat, a hat, and gloves for outdoor viewing in North Carolina. Skies should be clear or mostly clear at the time with temperatures in the 20s at midnight. Wind chills will be in the teens. In the northern mountains of the state, wind chills will be near 0.
After this weekend, the next total lunar eclipse will not be seen until May 26, 2021.