An Election Day total lunar eclipse is on its way: Here’s what to expect

Our last blood moon until March 14, 2025

This picture was sent to Click2Pins.com. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Nov. 8, Election Day:

HOUSTON – Early Tuesday morning before the polls open, people have the opportunity to witness a total lunar eclipse. This occurs when the moon enters the Earth’s shadow or umbra. Umbra is Latin for shadow. Below is a timelapse of our last lunar eclipse May 16, 2022. Sergio Garcia Rill captured this image at the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte. Here is what you need to know:

Blood Moon Eclipse timelapse from La Porte, Texas at the San Jacinto Monument. (Sergio Garcia Rill)

First election eclipse, sort of:

By law, a U.S. federal Election Day must take place in an even-numbered year and it must be on “the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November.” That means Election Day always falls within the Nov. 2 to Nov. 8 time frame. This law was not in place in the 1800s. James Madison on his way to being elected the fourth president did have a total lunar eclipse on Nov 3, 1808, a Thursday. It was visible above the then-17 United States. The next Election Day eclipse will be Nov. 8, 2394.

How to see it:

You have to get up early Tuesday morning. The partial eclipse begins in Texas at 3:09 a.m. The moon will be slowly setting west. This is when the moon enters the Earth’s penumbra. Penumbra is Latin for “almost shadow.” The moon shows the curve of Earth’s shadow across its surface. Greek astronomers of the 5th century BC argued that this was proof that the Earth was round. Only a spherical body will cast the same circular shadow on the Moon. The total eclipse begins at 4:16 a.m. lasting through 5:42 a.m. This is when the moon turns “red.” The deepest color will be at 4:59 a.m. The color is determined by the amount of dust and volcanic ash in the atmosphere.

Early Tuesday morning November 8th (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
A different way to look at the eclipse - Courtesy: Sky & Telescope (sky & telescope)

Why does the moon turn red?

At totality, the full moon enters the Earth’s umbra. This is the innermost and darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, where light from the sun is completely blocked. The reason the moon changes to a reddish color is because of the Earth’s atmosphere. What we normally see is the white/gray face of moon illuminated by sunlight. But during an eclipse, as the moon enters the Earth’s shadow, the only colors refracting onto the surface of the moon are red and orange. If you are on the surface of the moon during an eclipse looking at the Earth, you are seeing every sunrise and sunset at the same time. I think this is really cool!

The moon enters the Earth's shadow (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)
The view from the moon looking at the Earth

Tuesday morning’s forecast:

The forecast is not good Tuesday morning. Like Monday fog may be an issue. When you wake up watch us on KPRC2 and I’ll show you our visibility. If you take any excellent pictures, please share them with me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, tagging @kprc2anthony. Or you can post to Click2Pins.com.

Total lunar eclipse as seen from KPRC 2 (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

This is a picture I took of the Nov. 19, 2021, total lunar eclipse at KPRC 2. This is a good example how to our naked eye the red color of the moon is breathtaking. But our mobile phones do not capture this event well. While not needed, binoculars and telescopes enhance the view of the moon.

This full moon this month is called the Beaver Moon. You may also see a meteorite or two. The Taurid meteor shower will be visible through mid-November. If you miss this one, you’re going to have to wait a long time to see the next one. March 14, 2025 is the next time the United States will have a total lunar eclipse.


About the Author: