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Sunlight passing through Earth's atmosphere turns the Moon reddish-orange during a lunar eclipse.
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Eclipse photo courtesy Andy Steere; diagram courtesy NASA/Tony Phillips.

Lunar Eclipse in October 2004
News story originally written on October 27, 2004

There will be a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday night, October 27, 2004. The Earth's shadow will darken the Moon for more than three and a half hours, while the "total eclipse phase" will span a period of about 80 minutes. If you live in the eastern part of North America, the middle of the eclipse occurs around 11 P.M.

Just in time for Halloween, the Moon will turn a very pumpkin-like orange or red during the eclipse. The copper hue of the Moon during an eclipse is caused by red light refracting through Earth's atmosphere and lighting the Moon.

Earth's shadow has two parts: a lighter outer ring, and an inner, darker circle. During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon passes through both sections of this shadow, so there are several different stages to the eclipse. The link to NASA's page about this eclipse (below) provides details about the times of the different stages for viewers in various locations.

Last modified October 27, 2004 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA