A total lunar eclipse will occur just past midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning.
Assuming the weather is favorable, the total eclipse is the first in several years that will be visible in the Upper Midwest.
“Total lunar eclipses occur on Earth about every six months, but Minnesotans have not seen a total lunar eclipse since 2010 because the moon, Earth, and sun must align just right,” said Bell Museum planetarium education and outreach coordinator Sally Brummel in a news release. “We not only get a chance to see one now, but three more follow for us in six month intervals.”
The next total lunar eclipse will occur on Oct. 8.
The National Weather Service forecast for late Monday/early Tuesday calls for partly cloudy skies overnight. But lunar eclipse watchers will want to bundle up a bit. The low is expected to be 22 degrees and there is a slight chance of snow showers. After a warm couple of days this past week, next week appears to be trending below normal.
The easiest viewing starts just before 1 a.m. Tuesday with the start of the total eclipse about an hour later. The total eclipse should end at 3:35 a.m.
“You do not need any special equipment like telescopes or binoculars,” Brummel said of viewing the lunar eclipse. “Dress for the weather, lean back in your deck chair and enjoy nature’s show.”
During a total lunar eclipse the moon passes directly into Earth’s shadow, and viewers can see the Earth’s curved shadow pass over the moon. Near mid-eclipse, the moon often turns shades of red from sunlight refracting through the Earth’s atmosphere and reflecting off the moon. The term “blood moon” is sometimes used in connection with total lunar eclipses, but it is not a term that scientists use, the university reported.
Exactly how dark or how red the moon becomes during the eclipse depends on how deeply it falls into the Earth’s shadow. But the condition of the Earth’s atmosphere also plays a role.
“If the atmosphere contains a lot of volcanic ash or smoke from forest fires, the moon will appear dark red or nearly black,” Brummel said. “If the atmosphere is relatively clean, the moon will remain fairly bright.”