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Lunar Eclipses

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Can you see a lunar eclipse?

Again, of course! Anyone with a view of the Moon can see a lunar eclipse. The next four total lunar eclipses predicted for North America will be on April 15, 2014, October 8, 2014, April 5, 2015, and September 28, 2015.

Lunar Eclipses

Sometimes a full moon moves through Earth's shadow. This is a lunar eclipse ( Figure below ). During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon travels completely in Earth’s umbra. During a partial lunar eclipse, only a portion of the Moon enters Earth’s umbra. When the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbra, it is a penumbral eclipse. Since Earth’s shadow is large, a lunar eclipse lasts for hours.

The moon's position during a lunar eclipse

A lunar eclipse.

Partial lunar eclipses occur at least twice a year, but total lunar eclipses are less common. The Moon glows with a dull red coloring during a total lunar eclipse ( Figure below ).

A lunar eclipse is shown in a series of pictures

A lunar eclipse is shown in a series of pictures.

Vocabulary

  • lunar eclipse : Eclipse that occurs when the Moon moves through the shadow of the Earth and is blocked from view.

Summary

  • During a lunar eclipse, the full moon moves through Earth's shadow.
  • Earth's shadow is large so lunar eclipses last longer than solar eclipses. They cover more area too.
  • The umbra is the part of the shadow in which light is completely blocked.
  • The penumbra is the part of the shadow that is partially lit.

Practice

Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. What is a lunar eclipse?
  2. List the three basic types of eclipses.
  3. Why don't we have lunar eclipses every month?
  4. What color is the Moon during a total lunar eclipse?
  5. When is the next lunar eclipse?

Review

  1. What causes a lunar eclipse?
  2. Why are you more likely to see a lunar eclipse than a solar eclipse?
  3. When does a lunar eclipse occur?

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