On January 20th of this year we experienced a total eclipse of the moon in Cache Valley. Unfortunately it was mostly cloudy and quite cold that evening so you may not have made the effort to look. But fortunately there were enough breaks in the clouds that some amateur astronomers including myself were able to take images of it.
What is a total eclipse of the moon? It occurs when the moons orbit takes it through the shadow of the earth. The earth’s round shadow moves slowly over moon’s surface until it is has completely covered it. What makes a total eclipse of the moon so interesting is the reddish glow that appears over the entire surface of the moon. This is caused by the sun’s rays as they pass through the earth’s atmosphere and then onto the moon. Sometimes it is quite red and other times it is more of a brownish hue. It seems to depend on the pollutants that are in the earth’s atmosphere at the time. Another interesting part of a lunar eclipse is seeing the round reddish full moon suspended against the starry background. It is a beautiful sight.
The next Total Lunar eclipse in North America will occur on the evening May 26, 2021, just under two years from now.