A lunar eclipse is simply an eclipse that occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth and in the line of its shadow. This situation occurs when the Earth, Moon and, Sun are precisely or perfectly lined up and the Earth is in the middle of the Moon and the Sun. If the Moon, Sun and the Earth are not perfectly aligned, this will create a partial lunar eclipse or no lunar eclipse at all. This occurrence can only be witnessed on the night of a full Moon. The nearness of the moon to either of the nodes of its orbit determines the type and length of the lunar eclipse that will occur.
Whenever a total lunar eclipse occurs, the Earth shadow completely obstructs direct sunlight from getting to the moon. During this period, the only light reflected from the surface of the Moon is the one that has been refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere. This light often appears reddish as a result of the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light just like the sunrise and sunset does. The reddish appearance of the Moon on a total lunar eclipse is the main reason why it is often commonly referred to as a “Blood Moon”.
However, unlike a solar eclipse which can often be seen from a certain relatively small portion of the Earth, a lunar eclipse can be viewed from any part of the Earth on the night side. And also, unlike a solar eclipse which only lasts for a few minutes, a lunar eclipse often last for a few hours. And unlike solar eclipses that are not safe to view without proper eye protection or special precautions, lunar eclipses are safe to view because of the fact they are dimmer than the full moon.
TYPES OF LUNAR ECLIPSES
The shadow of the Earth is mainly divided into two parts and they are the Penumbra and Umbra. The Umbra is the central portion of the Earth’s shadow and the Penumbra is the outer region of the Earth’s shadow. There are three main types of lunar eclipses and they include Total, Partial and Penumbral lunar eclipse.
1. PENUMBRAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
The Penumbral lunar eclipse is considered to be the least interesting type of lunar eclipse, because of the fact that the Moon is in the Penumbral (outer portion) of the Earth’s shadow. This type of lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the outer region of the Earth’s shadow. This often results in a slight dimming of the surface of the moon. The total Penumbral lunar eclipse is the special type of Penumbral lunar eclipse which occurs when the moon is fully within the Earth’s Penumbra. This type of lunar eclipse is very rare.
2. TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
The total lunar eclipse occurs when the full shadow (Umbra) falls on the moon. Although the moon will not disappear entirely, it will be cast in peculiar darkness that makes it easy to neglect if you are not looking for the eclipse. The little sunlight that gets through the Earth’s atmosphere becomes scattered and refracted or bent and refocused to the lunar surface. This light often appears reddish as a result of the Rayleigh scattering of bluer light just like the sunrise and sunset does. The reddish appearance of the Moon on a total lunar eclipse is the main reason why it is often commonly referred to as a “Blood Moon”. The type of total lunar eclipse in which the Moon passes through the center of Earth’s shadow and contact the antisolar point is known as a central lunar eclipse. This type of lunar eclipse is very rare.
3. PARTIAL LUNAR ECLIPSE
There are some lunar eclipses that are only partial but sometimes even a total lunar eclipse often goes through a partial eclipse phase on both sides of totality. And during these lunar eclipses, the Earth, Moon and, Sun are not perfectly aligned and the Earth’s shadow will appear as if it is taking a bite out of the Moon.