Tuesday’s rare ‘blood moon’ eclipse will be the last until 2025! Here’s how to watch: ScienceAlert

We were treated to a spectacular viewing of the sky in 2022 with the rare alignment of five planets in June and a total lunar eclipse in May.

But all good things must come to an end. On Tuesday, November 8, Earth will experience the last total lunar eclipse in almost three years.

And trust us, you won’t want to miss this.

Known as a ‘blood moon’ because of the strange reddish hue that a full moon takes on, a total lunar eclipse is a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to see a spectacular astronomical phenomenon – no binoculars or special equipment required.

After this week, the next total lunar eclipse won’t be until March 13-14, 2025 (depending on where you are).

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and the Moon, casting its shadow on the Moon.

While direct sunlight is completely blocked, Earth’s atmosphere is transparent enough that some light penetrates to the Moon.

But that light is refracted, meaning the shorter blue wavelengths of light are scattered more than the longer red ones, causing the shadow to give the Moon a ghostly red-speckled glow. Hence the name “blood moon”.

Lunar Eclipse Chart. Not to scale. (Mike McRae/ScienceAlert)

This atmospheric scattering is the same phenomenon that causes sunrises and sunsets to appear reddish here on Earth.

The total eclipse, which will occur on November 8, 2022, will last a leisurely 1 hour and 25 minutes, which means we all have plenty of time to go outside, adjust our eyes to the dark, and see the “blood moon” plunge an eerie red color from the shadow of our own planet.

This also means that the eclipse will be visible to much of the world – anyone on the night side of the Earth for about an hour after 08:00 UTC will be able to witness the phenomenon.

This means large parts of Australia, New Zealand and Asia will see the eclipse on Tuesday night. For Australians, the eclipse starts at 8:09pm AEDT and will be total from 9:16pm to 10:41pm AEDT.

North America and parts of South America will also be treated to seeing the eclipse in the early hours of Tuesday morning before the sun rises – the whole thing starts for them just after 3am EST, but the totality will last from 5.16am to 6.41am EST.

You can use TimeandDate.com’s tool to find out when the eclipse will occur for you.

Other regions where at least some parts of the eclipse are visible include Northern/Eastern Europe, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The path of the Blood Moon in November 2022
The path of the total lunar eclipse on November 8, 2022 (TimeandDate.com)

Watching our familiar satellite turn rusty in color alone is worth waking up early or staying up late.

But this time there’s the added bonus that Uranus also makes a rare appearance for those with binoculars handy.

During totality, without the Moon’s light blocking the distant icy planet, Uranus should appear as a bright star a finger’s width above our moon.

Uranus over a blood moon
Uranus above the blood moon on November 8, 2022 (Museums Victoria/Stellarium via The Conversation)

Those without binoculars will also be able to see the closer planets Jupiter and Saturn above the blood moon with the naked eye.

If you’re not in an area where you can see the eclipse this time, don’t worry, you can watch along online too! The Griffith Observatory in LA, TimeandDate and the Italy-based Virtual Telescope Project have live broadcasts.

Wherever you are, we hope you experience clear skies or at least a good internet connection and can witness our planet’s shadow changing the color of our satellite.

There’s nothing like an eclipse to make us feel so small and so connected to the cosmos at the same time. Happy sky gazing!

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