What color will the Moon turn at mideclipse? During previous total eclipses, the Moon has appeared brown, orange, crimson, and brick red. Lunar eclipses exhibit a red-to-orange range of shades because sunlight passing through Earth’s atmosphere during totality becomes scattered and reddened. It’s this dim glow that fills Earth’s shadow and lights the eclipsed Moon. On December 10, most astronomers expect the totally eclipsed Moon to be bright orange. The sky certainly will grow darker, especially from sites far from city lights. Totality will allow viewers to pick out the bright winter stars closest to our nearest celestial neighbor.
Astronomy magazine Associate Editor Bill Andrews described the upcoming eclipse as an opportunity for some easy observing: “Lunar eclipses are popular events because they require no equipment. If it’s clear where you are, just go outside and take a look.” Andrews also stated that total eclipses of the Moon are completely safe to look at. “All we’re seeing is reflected sunlight,” he said. “So it’s just like looking at an Earth landscape on a sunny day.”
The next two total lunar eclipses occur April 15 and October 8, 2014. And, as the luck of celestial geometry would have it, both will be even better for North Americans than this December’s event.