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During Lunar Eclipse, Moon Will Turn Into A 'Reddish Ball'

The moon appears red during a lunar eclipse in the Qatari capital of Doha, 28 August 2007. It's going to happen again tonight, and be visible across North America. i i

hide captionThe moon appears red during a lunar eclipse in the Qatari capital of Doha, 28 August 2007. It's going to happen again tonight, and be visible across North America.

Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
The moon appears red during a lunar eclipse in the Qatari capital of Doha, 28 August 2007. It's going to happen again tonight, and be visible across North America.

The moon appears red during a lunar eclipse in the Qatari capital of Doha, 28 August 2007. It's going to happen again tonight, and be visible across North America.

Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

We hesitate to ever recommend getting out of bed in the wee hours of a cold winter night to go outside and look up at the sky.

But everything we hear and read about the total eclipse of the moon that's going to be visible across all of North America starting around 1:30 a.m. ET (and lasting until about 5 a.m. ET) suggests it's going to be one of those celestial events that are worth checking out.

And you folks on the west coast and in Hawaii — hey, you've got no excuse. Just stay up a little late.

On Talk of the Nation's Science Friday, meteorologist and sky watcher Joe Rao said that if the sky is clear, the show should be quite grand:

"The moon will continue to progress into the shadow, and then at approximately 2:41, it will be completely in the shadow, 2:41 Eastern Time, 11:41 p.m. Pacific Time. And for 72 minutes, while the moon is completely immersed in the shadow of the Earth, one would think that since the shadow is going to cut off all sunlight from the moon, that it would black out completely. It will not.

"Instead, around the time of total eclipse, it's going to appear to light up like a coppery orange or reddish ball, and the reason for that is that the sunlight is going to be strained through the Earth's atmosphere, and our atmosphere is going to act like a lens and bend that ruddy hue — the same ruddy color that you see in sunrise and sunset — onto the surface of the moon while it's immersed in the shadow."

Here's the entire conversation Joe had with Science Friday's Ira Flatow:

NASA, as you'd expect, is all over the eclipse. And it's going to have a lot of ways to share the experience, including a live video feed (for those who can't get outdoors), an IMTHERE text message group-reporting tool, and a Flickr page for photos.

SPACE.com can walk you through the "12 stages of Monday's total lunar eclipse" and it has a handy timetable here.

And if you're a Twitter fan, add #eclipse to any tweets you do or do a search on that to see what others are saying.

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