What is a “selenium eclipse?” The bizarre “Blood Moonset-Sunrise” is coming to America next week

If you live in New York or almost anywhere on the east coast to North Carolina, be prepared to see something strange happen at sunrise.

In the early hours of Tuesday, November 8, 2022, the last total Blood Moon eclipse in three years will be visible from North America.

This is a celestial event lasting more than five hours during which our satellite will drift through Earth’s shadow in space and then emerge. When the Moon reaches the center of the shadow, it takes on a reddish copper color. It will be visible to everyone in North America, the Pacific and East Asia. Most stargazers will tell you that it is best seen in western North America, where it will be seen in its entirety.

However, that’s not true if your ambition is to see a rare “selelion” eclipse, a masterclass in the physics of light.

What is a ‘selenelion’ eclipse?

“A Selenelion eclipse occurs when the Moon rises fully eclipsed at sunset (evening, east) or sets fully eclipsed at sunrise (morning, west),” Patricia said. Reiff, an American space physicist at Rice University. in Houston, Texas, which maintains a website dedicated to eclipses.

How is it possible ? The Moon is only eclipsed when it moves through Earth’s shadow in space, thus being directly opposite the Sun. The phenomenon occurs because of the curvature of the Earth – the atmosphere of our planet refracts the images of the Sun and the Moon and makes them appear in slightly different positions.

This is a relatively rare occurrence for any particular location because this alignment is only possible in a narrow band across the Earth’s surface that spans both morning and evening. “Each lunar eclipse has two selelion bands, but they may not be visible from the United States,” Reiff explains.

However, on November 8, 2022, one of these selelelion groups is in the United States.

Why the ‘Blood Moon’ is reddish

During the Moon’s long journey through the Earth’s shadow, the only light that will reach the lunar surface will first have been filtered through the Earth’s atmosphere. It makes it red. Short-wavelength blue light from the Sun hits molecules in Earth’s atmosphere and scatters, but longer-wavelength red and orange light travels more easily through it, hitting fewer molecules. Thus, the dominant color of light seen on the Moon during this short time will be towards the red end of the spectrum.

The physics are the same as for a sunset or a sunrise. In fact, during a lunar eclipse, the effect can be seen as thousands of sunrises and sunsets being projected onto the lunar surface simultaneously.

What the observer sees during a Selenelion eclipse at sunrise or sunset is red light from the Sun – both on the solar disk and on the eclipsed Moon – with the blue part of the sunlight scattered at above by the Earth’s atmosphere.

Who will see a morning eclipse from ‘selenelion’?

A lunar eclipse is a global event that occurs at the same global time for all observers, but where you are on our planet determines what you will see. Places that see a fully eclipsed “Blood Moon” around midnight when the Moon is high in the sky are said to have the best view largely because all of the different phases can be seen.

If totality occurs on the horizon, the observer misses the partial lunar eclipse that precedes it. but happens to see a selelelion.

For example, New York City will see the maximum eclipse at 5:59 a.m. and moonset is at 6:41 a.m., so it will see a selelion. The same will be true for Boston, Portland and Bangor.

In fact, the entire east coast of North America, as far south as the Outer Banks of North Carolina, will see a Selenelion Eclipse, with an eclipsed moon setting in the west in the early hours. of November 8. The same will be true for the southeast coast of Greenland. , Cuba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

What the morning ‘selenelion’ eclipse will look like

For the eastern United States, the Moon will rise fully eclipsed at sunset. “Looking east you can see dawn breaking, but looking west you can see the full moon,” Reiff said. The attraction here is physical – the red light on the rising Sun and on the clouds is the same red as on the Moon. “The light passing over the observer’s head is what illuminates the Moon,” Reiff said.

It’s a little easier to find a morning selelelion since you can find the Moon while the sky is still dark and watch the event unfold. Also, those in the US have just witnessed a bright “blood moon”, so the subtle morning selelion will be a bonus.

Who will see an eclipse of ‘selenelion’ in the evening?

“For an evening selelion, you want the moonrise when it’s completely (or almost completely) eclipsed, at sunset,” Reiff said. “The eclipse lasts an hour and 25 minutes, so almost everyone in Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan and eastern India will have a selelelion at sunset.”

An evening selelelion – with an eclipsed moon rising in the east on the evening of November 8 – will be seen in Russia, Kazakhstan, eastern China, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, in Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Western Australia.

What the evening ‘selenelion’ eclipse will look like

“The Moon rises completely eclipsed as the last of the sunsets,” Reiff said. “The Moon will be very faint and difficult to spot without binoculars. If there are clouds around, they will be red from the setting sun.

For a sunset selelelion, it may take a while to find the Dark Moon at dusk, advises Reiff.

Will I see an eclipse from ‘selenelion’?

An easy way to check if you will see a selelelion is to enter your location on the map at timeanddate.com. The light pink band with “part of the total eclipse visible” is the “selenelion zone”.

How to see an eclipse from ‘selenelion’

“Find a rooftop — the upper level of a parking lot is ideal — where you can see both the eastern and western horizons,” Reiff said. In November, the Sun will be south of east at sunrise and south of east at sunset. while the full moon will be north of west at sunrise and north of east at sunset. “By having a clear horizon in both directions, you have a chance of seeing both the very red Sun rise or set almost at the same time as the red eclipsed Moon.”

Disclaimer: I am the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.

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