Rare Lunar Eclipse Will Have You Seeing Red

April 14, 2014

(Photo courtesy of Boris Grdanoski/AP via NPR)
The moon was turned red during a 2011 eclipse, as this view from Skopje, Macedonia, shows.

The Americas will have a front-row seat for the first lunar eclipse of the year. But this eclipse will be in color.

Early Tuesday morning, the moon will fall completely behind Earth’s shadow for what astronomers call a total lunar eclipse. Some are calling it a blood moon because light from around the edges of the Earth will splash on the lunar surface and light the moon in a shade of red.

Kevin Schindler from the Lowell Observatory explains how the moon will look.

“With the naked eye you can see it just fine, and the moon will appear as it’s getting eclipsed it’ll get kind of an orangish reddish color,” Schindler said. “It won’t be it’s highest point in the sky at night, it won’t be due South, but it’s going to be really easy to find in the sky.”

There will be a total of four eclipses this year, two lunar and two solar. Tuesday's will last for 78 minutes, from 12:06 a.m. to 1:24 a.m.

Schindler said there is a misconception that lunar eclipses will damage the human eye if viewed directly.

“That refers to a solar eclipse,” Schindler said. “You should never look at the sun. Whether its a full sun or an eclipsed sun, it doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t look at the sun. But the moon is always safe to look at.”

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the Earth’s view of the sun.