EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Skywatchers will be treated to an astronomical show in the sky early Election Day morning.
On Tuesday, the moon will be falling deep into Earth’s shadow making the full beaver moon turn a deep red.
Scott MacNeill, a staff astronomer at the Ladd Observatory in Providence, said people should really get out to see this one.
“This is a notable eclipse because this is going to be the last total eclipse that we have in New England until March 2025,” MacNeill told 12 News.
MacNeill is also the observatory director at the Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown. Frosty Drew will be open to the public Tuesday morning to watch the eclipse.
Total lunar eclipses are pretty rare, although we had another eclipse in May. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon moves into the shadow cast by Earth.
Tuesday’s eclipse will start at 4:09 a.m. in the southwest sky as the umbra, the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, starts to move over the face of the moon. This is the beginning of the partial eclipse.
The total lunar eclipse begins at 5:16 a.m. when the moon falls completely into the umbra. The moon will take on a red hue.
Maximum eclipse occurs just before 6 a.m., and the moon will be setting before the eclipse ends.
The moon will be setting at 6:32 a.m.
The red color on the moon is the result of the sunlight traveling through Earth’s atmosphere.
“When it moves through the atmosphere, a lot of that blue light is essentially filtered out by rayleigh scattering, and just the greens and the reds make it to the moon giving it a ruddy hue,” explained MacNeill.
This lunar eclipse will also be special because the moon will appear to be very large.
“It’s called the moon illusion. From our point of view, it actually looks bigger. It’s not. Because we’re seeing the moon against terrestrial features in our minds, we assume it’s much larger. When we see other objects on the horizon the moon, in our minds we make the moon bigger,” MacNeill told 12 News.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to look at and a telescope is not needed.
“In my opinion, just a naked-eye view of that red moon sitting up in a sky full of stars, I mean that steals the show right there,” said MacNeill.