On August 28th, as the month draws to an end, skywatchers across the Americas, eastern Asia and Australia will be treated to a spectacular total lunar eclipse – that is when the Earth blocks the Sun’s light from reaching the Moon, making it appear red in the sky.

Lunar Eclipse
Although total lunar eclipses are not as rare as total solar eclipses, they are still not something we see every day. Bob Colwell

For North Americans, the farther west you go the better the view. Weather permitting, observers in the Pacific Time Zone will see all stages of the event unfold – the Moon’s edge will begin to intrude into the dark part of Earth’s shadow very¬†early, at 1:51 A.M. PDT. The total eclipse, with the Moon completely swallowed by the shadow, will last from 2:52 to 4:22 A.M. PDT. By 5:24 A.M. PDT (just before dawn) the last partial stage of the eclipse will end, and the show will be pretty much over.

Observers in eastern North America will miss much of the action; the eclipse will begin around dawn and will still be in progress when the Sun rises and the Moon sets. From eastern Asia and Australia, the event will occur on the same date (August 28th) but in the evening, at moonrise.

To view the eclipse, no special equipment is necessary – just go outside and look up! However, if you have a binocular, bring it along. Standard 7×35 or 7×50 binoculars will provide dramatic views of the eclipsed Moon, particularly by enhancing the colors. Although the eclipse will look great even from the city, it will appear more impressive in a dark country sky.

The next total lunar eclipse will be on February 21, 2008, and will favor the Americas, as well as Europe, Africa and eastern Asia. Observers in the United States will get a fine view of this eclipse, high in the dark evening sky.

The Eclipse at a Glance
North AmericaOther
Partial Eclipse Begins:04:51 A.M.03:51 A.M.02:51 A.M.01:51 A.M.08:51 A.M.
Total Eclipse Begins:05:52 A.M.04:52 A.M.03:52 A.M.02:52 A.M.09:52 A.M.
Mid-Eclipse:06:37 A.M.05:37 A.M.04:37 A.M.03:37 A.M.10:37 A.M.
Total Eclipse Ends:07:22 A.M.06:22 A.M.05:22 A.M.04:22 A.M.11:22 A.M.
Partial Eclipse Ends:08:24 A.M.07:24 A.M.06:24 A.M.05:24 A.M.12:24 A.M.