Around 10:30PM EST on 20 – 21 January 2019 (timetable below), a total lunar eclipse will be visible in its entirety from anywhere in NYC with a clear view of the sky from south-southeast to south-southwest. One doesn’t need any special equipment, filters, binoculars, or telescopes to observe the result of this syzygy of three solar system objects: Sun, Earth, Moon.
For context, there are three types of lunar eclipses:
- Penumbral: the Moon passes through Earth’s penumbral shadow. Hardly noticeable and not a worthwhile event.
- Partial: part of the Moon darkens as it passes through Earth’s umbral shadow. This is noticeable and worthwhile.
- Total: the entire Moon passes through Earth’s shadow and may exhibit a reddish color.
Eclipses aren’t necessarily rare but total lunar eclipses are infrequent enough to stir interest and excitement. The last total lunar eclipse visible for its entirety from New York City was 27–28 September 2015 and the next will be 15–16 May 2022.
As long as you have a view of the sky in the south-southeast and it is clear of clouds then you can see the entire eclipse from start to finish. The Moon is high in the sky, situated between the constellation Gemini with two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, to the northwest and the imperceptible (from New York City) constellation Cancer is to the east.
The total duration for the eclipse is 5 hours 12 minutes, with the partial phases each lasting little more than 67 minutes and the full eclipse is 62 minutes long. The penumbral phase is almost undetectable to the causal observer. For the pedestrian observer, the show really begins at 10:34 PM EST when the Moon begins its plunge into Earth’s umbra shadow. In the next hour and seven and one-half minutes, one witnesses the shadow gradually advancing across the lunar surface until the full eclipse begins. The full eclipse lasts for one hour and two minutes as it cuts a chord on the earth’s circular shadow plane. A red hue may be seen coloring the moon. If one stays long enough, at 12:43 AM EST the total eclipse finishes and the egress partial eclipse begins.
|09:36 PM EST||P1||Penumbral eclipse begins|
|10:34 PM EST||U1||Partial lunar eclipse begins|
|11:41 PM EST||U2||Total lunar eclipse begins|
|12:12 AM EST||Max Eclipse|
|12:43 AM EST||U3||Total lunar eclipse ends|
|01:50 AM EST||U4||Partial lunar eclipse ends|
|02:48 AM EST||P2||Penumbral eclipse ends|
Visit the timeanddate.com website to see animated time lapse of each each event.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through earth’s shadow. The arrangement is the Sun, Earth, and the Moon. In comparison, a solar eclipse occurs when the earth passes through the shadow of the Moon with the arrangement of Sun, Moon, Earth. In Chet Raymo’s essay, “The Shape of Night” found in the The Soul of the Night: An Astronomical Pilgrimage, he describes poetically how “Every object near a star wears a cone of night.” In our solar system, the planets and the moons, and every other object that receives sunlight casts its own wizard’s cap shadow since it is smaller than the Sun. It is not unusual for one solar system body to pass through the shadow of another, though from our observation deck on Earth we don’t see all. We do have the vantage point to observe eclipses and occultations involving Jupiter and its moons.
Do you have binoculars or a telescope? For some diversion, consider observing open clusters. The Beehive cluster, a.k.a. M44 or Praesepe, is 7º east of the Moon in the Heart of Cancer. Lower in the sky to the west is Taurus with the the Hyades and Pleiades still above the horizon. Orion’s Nebula is bright enough to be seen if you aim your view towards the middle star of his sword.
If you were a lunar inhabitant, you would observe new Earth eclipsing the Sun, a total solar eclipse for the lunarian seen from any location on the nearside of the Moon.
Fred Espenak, a.k.a. Mr. Eclipse >> http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEnext.html & http://www.eclipsewise.com/lunar/LEprime/2001-2100/LE2018Jan31Tprime.html