Lunar Eclipses: What Are They & When Is the Next One?

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Lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. The next lunar eclipse will be a penumbral lunar eclipse on Jan. 10, 2020 and will be visible from Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. 

Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that. Below, you’ll find the science and history of lunar eclipses, learn how they work, and see a list of the next ones on tap.

The last lunar eclipse was on July 16, 2019. It was a partial lunar eclipse. Here is a schedule of lunar eclipse coming in 2020:

  • Jan. 10: Penumbral eclipse. Visible from parts of North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
  • June 5: Penumbral eclipse. Visible from parts of South America, Europe, Africa, most of Asia and Australia.
  • July 5: Penumbral eclipse. Visible from most of North America, South America, western Europe and Africa.
  • Nov. 30: Penumbral eclipse. Visible from North America, South America, northern Europe, eastern Asia and Australia.
  • The first of four penumbral lunar eclipses of 2020 arrives on Jan. 10, and it will be visible throughout most of the world, with the exception of the United States, central Canada, and a majority of South America. This will be the first of four penumbral lunar eclipses in 2020. The moon will take on a tea-stained appearance during this eclipse, which begins at 12:07 p.m. EST (1707 GMT) and ends at 4:12 p.m. EST (2112 GMT), peaking at 7:11 p.m. EST (1911 GMT).

    (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

    Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of June 5, 2020

    The moon will again take on a slight saturation during the penumbral lunar eclipse of June, 5 2020. The coloring will occur across half of the lunar face. Central and western Africa, southeast Asia and most of Australia will view the entire penumbral lunar eclipse, which begins at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT), peaks at 3:25 EDT (1925 GMT) and ends at 5:04 p.m. EDT (2104 GMT).

    (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

    Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of July 5, 2020

    The third penumbral lunar eclipse of 2020 will be visible from all of South America and most of North America. The slight shading will appear over less than half of the lunar face, peaking at 12:31 a.m. EDT (0431 GMT). This eclipse will begin at 11:07 p.m. EDT on July 4 (0307 GMT on July 5) and end at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT).

    (Image credit: Fred Espenak/NASA)

    Penumbral Lunar Eclipse of Nov. 30, 2020

    The moon will have a tea-stained appearance across most of its face during the final penumbral lunar eclipse of 2020. It will be visible from most places on the Earth except the African continent, the majority of Europe and central Eurasia. It will begin at 2:32 a.m. EST (0732 GMT), peak at 4:44 a.m. EST (0944 GMT) and end at 6:53 a.m. EDT (1153 GMT).

    The next total lunar eclipse, or “blood moon,” won’t occur until May 26, 2021, and it will be visible from eastern Asia, Australia, the Pacific Ocean and much of the Americas. A partial lunar eclipse will follow on Nov. 19, 2021, and it will be visible from North and South America, Australia, and parts of Europe and Asia. Those will be the only two lunar eclipses in 2021.

    NASA keeps a list predicting lunar eclipses until 2100. They also keep data about past lunar eclipses. During the 21st century, Earth will experience a total of 228 lunar eclipses, according to the space agency.

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