A Brief Lunar Eclipse On April 4

This image shows the Dec. 20, 2012 total lunar eclipse, as seen from Sagamihara, Japan. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Alphonse Sterling

This image shows the Dec. 20, 2012 total lunar eclipse, as seen from Sagamihara, Japan. Image Credit: NASA/MSFC/Alphonse Sterling

April 1, 2015 – On Saturday morning, April 4th, sky watchers in the USA can see a brief but beautiful total eclipse of the Moon. The bright full moon over North America should turn a shade of celestial red during the eclipse.

Eastern North America and western South America will see beginning stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the west before sunrise April 4, whereas middle Asia (India, western China, mid-Asian Russia) can view the ending stages of the partial umbral eclipse low in the east after sunset April 4. Greenland, Iceland, Europe, Africa and the Middle East won’t see this eclipse at all. A world map of eclipse visibility is available here. The total eclipse will last only five minutes.

This eclipse marks the third in a series of four lunar eclipses in a row, known as a “tetrad.” The first in the series occurred on April 15, 2014, with the second in the tetrad of eclipses in September of 2014, and the final will be September 28, 2015.

For a total lunar eclipse to happen, the Moon must be full, which means it is directly opposite the Sun, with Earth in between. The eclipse happens when the Moon moves into the shadow cast by the Sun shining on Earth. We don’t have an eclipse every month because sometimes the Moon is above the shadow, sometimes below.

During the eclipse, the Moon often looks reddish because sunlight has passed through Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most of its blue light. This eerie, harmless effect has earned the tongue-in-cheek nickname “blood moon.”

A telescope is not needed to view a lunar eclipse — just find the Moon in the sky and enjoy.

Timeline of eclipse on April 4

  • Partial eclipse begins 4:15 MDT
  • Totality begins 5:54 MDT
  • Greatest eclipse 6:00 MDT
  • Totality ends 6:06 MDT
  • Partial eclipse ends 7:45 MDT