Beyond the Forecast – Our next Lunar Eclipse

Most of the country can see this week’s eclipse in its full glory.

Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of Beyond The Forecast!

The Orionid meteor shower was easy to spot last week, and we have another cosmic event soon after that one. A total Lunar Eclipse will be visible on the night of Nov. 7.

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A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth lines up directly between the sun and the moon. The moon hides in the shadow of the planet and takes on a reddish hue.

A total lunar eclipse happens when the Moon is not only in the Earth’s shadow but also directly blocked from the Sun.

A solar eclipse differs by placing the moon between the sun and Earth. From our perspective, the moon looks like it covers up the sun for the duration of the eclipse, forming a “black sun.”

This eclipse is the easiest to spot in the North Pacific, but we can still see the total phase of the eclipse. We can watch the moon enter the Earth’s shadow and pass directly behind the planet before the moon moves below the horizon.

The area directly behind the Earth is its Umbra while the Penumbra is the shadow the Earth casts as the Sun shines on it.

The penumbra of the Earth is the shadow cast by a planet or moon (in this case the Earth’s shadow on the moon). The penumbral eclipse begins when the moon enters the Earth’s shadow without being totally covered by it. Some Lunar Eclipses never fully move behind the Earth and stay in the penumbral phase.

Some Lunar Eclipses only enter the Earth’s shadow without moving directly behind the planet when viewed from the Sun.

A partial eclipse happens when the moon is not only in the Earth’s shadow but also in part directly behind the planet. The area where light is directly blocked is the Earth’s umbra. The partial eclipse starts at 4:09 a.m. followed by the full eclipse.

By 4:41 A.M. half of the moon is partially eclipsed.

The full eclipse begins at 5:16 a.m. on the morning of Nov. 8, with the maximum shadow cast just before 6 a.m. The moon sinks below the horizon as it slides out of the Earth’s shadow, but there is plenty of time to watch the eclipse before 7 a.m.

The greatest eclipse occurs when the Moon is most directly blocked from the Sun by the Earth.
By the time half of the Moon comes out of the Earth’s shadow the Moon is below the horizon in Virginia.

This Lunar Eclipse flows a partial Solar Eclipse on Tuesday. We won’t be able to see the upcoming Solar Eclipse; our next highly visible Solar Eclipse in the US is in April of 2024.

The last week of October has some great mornings for planet-watching. You can download our weather app to see which nights are the clearest and get Meteorologist Chris Michaels’ latest updates online.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Lynchburg area, the New River Valley or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we have great weather and science content on Here are some featured stories from the past week:

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-- Marshall Downing

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