A partial lunar eclipse overnight on Thursday will be the longest one in more than 500 years, according to astronomers.
The “nearly total” lunar eclipse is expected to take place overnight Thursday, Nov. 18, to Friday, Nov. 19, said NASA.
“The Moon will be so close to opposite the Sun on Nov. 19 that it will pass through the southern part of the shadow of the Earth for a nearly total lunar eclipse,” the space agency says on its website.
A partial lunar eclipse takes place when a full moon is partially obscured by Earth’s shadow. About 97 percent of the moon will be covered during the eclipse, says NASA’s website.
“Partial lunar eclipses might not be quite as spectacular as total lunar eclipses,” NASA adds, “but they occur more frequently.”
The eclipse, depending on weather conditions, will be visible in many parts of the world, including North America, New Zealand, Japan, and Australia, according to the space website EarthSky.
“For U.S. East Coast observers, the partial eclipse begins a little after 2 a.m., reaching its maximum at 4 in the morning,” NASA’s website says. “For observers on the West Coast, that translates to beginning just after 11 p.m., with a maximum at 1 a.m.”
Those who are trying to view the eclipse don’t need to wear special glasses, as with a solar eclipse.
“A lunar eclipse is great because you can look at it head-on without any extra equipment. No filters are needed. It is going to be as visible as the moon is,” Isaac Wyatt, Director of Operations at Audubon Louisiana Nature Center, told WDSU.
Website Timeanddate.com has more information about when one can see the eclipse based on their location.
“It’s a very interesting thing to see,” said Tom Lynch, who runs Sidewalk Astronomy in Lynbrook, Long Island, and belongs to the Amateur Observers Society of New York, a Nassau County-based astronomy club.
“You see the white moon—with the normal full moon,” he said. “And all of a sudden it starts to get darker at one spot then darker more and more.”
Depending on what’s going on in the atmosphere, the moon should have a red tint to it.
“It’s an awesome sight,” said the 65-year-old, who plans to set an alarm for 2:00 a.m. EST.
A telescope is not necessary to view tonight’s eclipse and anyone with a view of the moon can watch without needing to be at a dark location. Diehard amateur astronomers will make their way to one of the five state parks on Long Island which will remain open for tonight’s cosmic event.
Ordinarily, those who watch the night sky need a “stargazing permit” to be in the parks after sunset. A permit costs $35 and is issued annually by the parks department.
“This is a lot more appealing when it happens in the early evening,” said Lynch. “Happening in the middle of the night like this on a Thursday into Friday night isn’t as convenient, but such is life,” he said.