Special lunar eclipse over NJ skies
EDISON - Sky-watchers are in for a treat overnight during a special lunar eclipse in New Jersey.
For 78 minutes, the moon will be transformed into an eerie reddish ball. The phenomenon has been dubbed the "Blood Moon."
That's because the sun, the earth and the moon will stretch out in a straight line in space with the moon plunging directly into the shadow of the earth.
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At first, as the moon begins to move into earth's shadow, it will appear to gradually and mysteriously darken and then, as it becomes completely covered it will begin to glow with a reddish or coppery orange color.
The reason this happens is that sunlight is bent around the edge of the earth by the atmosphere. To an astronaut on the moon, the sun would be hidden behind the earth, and backlit by a brilliant red ring of light composed of all of the world's sunrises and sunsets.
So, as the earth's shadow engulfs more and more of the moon, and depending on the state of the atmosphere, the totally eclipsed moon can appear a reddish orange, murky brown or dusky and gray, all depending on the effects of clouds and haze encircling the globe.
The show will get underway at 1:58 a.m. when the earth's dark shadow begins to appear as a bite on the moon's upper left edge. From 3:07 to 4:25 a.m. the moon will be completely immersed in the earth's shadow and the eclipse will then be in its total phase. After 4:25 a.m., the moon will slowly exit the shadow, the last bit disappearing on the moon's lower right edge at 5:33 a.m.