Can You Look at the Lunar Eclipse Directly or Do You Need Special Glasses for Tonight?


The lunar eclipse is happening tonight and is visible across the United States. It’s technically a supermoon, a blood moon, total lunar eclipse, and wolf moon. This is also the only total lunar eclipse that you’ll see in 2019. But do you need to take any precautions when you’re looking at the lunar eclipse, like you need to do for a solar eclipse?

No. You don’t need any special glasses to watch the lunar eclipse tonight. Unlike solar eclipses that can damage your eyes, with a lunar eclipse you can look directly at the moon without hurting your eyes. 

In a lunar eclipse, the Earth is between the moon and the sun, and all three objects are in perfect alignment, as NASA explains. Therefore, the earth is creating a shadow on the moon’s surface, making it turn red. The lunar eclipse can only happen when there’s a full moon, but it doesn’t happen every time there’s a full moon because the moon is about 5 degrees off from perfect alignment with earth’s orbital plane, notes EarthSky.

NASA | Understanding Lunar EclipsesIt's not often that we get a chance to see our planet's shadow, but a lunar eclipse gives us a fleeting glimpse. During these rare events, the full Moon rapidly darkens and then glows red as it enters the Earth's shadow. Though a lunar eclipse can be seen only at night, it's worth staying up…2014-04-08T13:00:05.000Z

When you’re looking at a lunar eclipse, you’re only looking at the moon. And looking at the moon with the naked eye is always safe, unlike looking at the sun. So no, you won’t go blind if you look directly at the lunar eclipse and enjoy the beautiful red color of the moon. Instead of seeing the moon’s shadow overtaking the sun, like we do in a solar eclipse, tonight you’ll see the Earth’s shadow overtaking the moon. You’ll see red in the moon because the sun is “behind you,” and you’re essentially seeing the hues of a sunset cast on the moon.

Here’s an exact schedule for tonight, as shared by NASA:

  • 9:36 p.m. Eastern (6:36 p.m. Pacific, 8:36 p.m. Central): The edge of the moon will enter the penumbra.
  • For the next 57 minutes, the moon will dim slightly as it enters the penumbra. You will only notice slight dimming.
  • 10:33 p.m. Eastern (7:33 p.m Pacific): The edge of the moon will begin to enter the umbra, which will cause significant darkening. Some say the moon looks like it has a bite taken out of it during this time that gets bigger and bigger.
  • 11:41 p.m. Eastern (8:41 p.m. Pacific): The moon is completely inside the umbra, which is the beginning of the total lunar eclipse. (The moon will be looking reddish orange around this time.)
  • 12:12 a.m. Eastern (9:12 p.m. Pacific, 11:12 p.m. Central): The moment of greatest eclipse for the moon.
  • 12:43 a.m. Eastern (9:43 p.m. Pacific): The edge of the moon begins to exit the umbra and enter the opposite side of the penumbra. This is the end of the total lunar eclipse.
  • 1:50 a.m. Eastern (10:50 p.m. Pacific): The moon is completely outside the umbra, and is moving out of the penumbra.
  • 2:48 a.m. Eastern (11:48 p.m. Pacific): The eclipse event is over.

So get outside and enjoy tonight’s lunar eclipse without any worry about hurting your eyes. It will be a beautiful sight.

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