It’s October, which means it’s spooky season and in some fantastic astronomical timing, the Sun, Moon, and Earth have all lined up to give us a Blood Moon partial lunar eclipse this weekend, where the Earth will appear to take a bite out of the Moon like a cosmic vampire.
Lunar eclipses occur when the Earth and Moon’s orbits match up to position Earth directly between the Sun and the Moon, with the light of the Sun being blocked by Earth, which casts its shadow across the lunar surface. During a total lunar eclipse, Earth’s shadow covers the entire Full Moon, but during a partial eclipse, only part of the Moon will be in shadow, hence the appearance our planet is taking a “bite” out of our satellite.
The partial lunar eclipse is set to occur on October 28-29 and will be visible from Europe, North America, parts of South America, Australia, Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and some regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. To find specific times for your locations, you can use TimeandDate’s interactive eclipse map or watch as they stream it live.
The penumbral eclipse – when the Moon passes through Earth's almost shadow – will be visible for around an hour each side of the partial eclipse. It’s due to last around 4 hours and 25 minutes from beginning to end of all the eclipse phases, although the good stuff will only last around 1 hour, 17 minutes. During this time, about 6 percent of the Moon's surface will be covered by Earth's umbra (shadow).
Eclipses always come in pairs, so this weekend’s follows the annular solar eclipse, better known as a “ring of fire” eclipse, seen across much of North and South America on October 14. The next pair is the penumbral lunar eclipse on 24-25 March 2024 followed by the total solar eclipse on April 8.
As for the Blood Moon part? It’s not a proper Blood Moon, we just enjoy a flair for the dramatic. Blood Moons are when the Moon appears red during a total lunar eclipse due to the Sun's light scattering through Earth's atmosphere. However, in some cultures, October’s Full Moon is known by other names, such as the Hunter’s Moon or Blood Moon.
PS. Sorry werewolves, a partial lunar eclipse doesn’t make the Moon any less full.