Texas Living

Total Lunar Eclipse

By Paula Felps 4.11.14

On April 14 and 15, many of us will be hunkered down to work on our taxes, but it’s actually a good time to drop what you’re doing and look to the skies.

Late on April 14 — and well into the early hours of April 15 — North America will be treated to a spectacular view of a lunar eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly behind the Earth and into its umbra, or shadow. When that happens, the full moon is turned into a reddish-colored ball as it becomes eclipsed by the Earth’s shadow.

This is the first total lunar eclipse that North America has seen since December 2011, and if you want bragging rights, how’s this: Europe and Asia won’t get to see this rare sight at all.

Eyes on the Skies

In most cases, the eclipses that we see are partial eclipses. The main difference is that, with a total lunar eclipse, the moon moves completely into the Earth’s shadow. The moon moves at about 2,300 mph, and a total eclipse can last for as long as 107 minutes. However, the time from when the moon first begins entering the Earth’s shadow until it leaves the shadow lasts for hours.

In Texas, viewers will start to catch a glimpse of the eclipse about six minutes before midnight, and the big event — the total lunar eclipse — should happen around 2:46 a.m. The eclipse ends around 5:38 that morning — which still leaves you plenty of time to finish your taxes!