Clear skies and geographical location permitting, Saturday will be your last chance to spy a total lunar eclipse until 2014. Here's what you need to know to catch a glimpse before it's gone.
First things first: if you live in South America or some of Africa's westernmost regions, we're sorry — it looks like you're going to have to wait a few more years to witness a total lunar eclipse in person. Fortunately, you can still watch the eclipse online via a live feed over on slooh.com. Everyone else, congratulations. You win.
For the majority of the Western Hemisphere, the eclipse will be most noticeable early Saturday morning in the hours right before dawn. The Moon will enter Earth's shadow at 3:33 PST, and the total eclipse phase will begin at 6:06 PST. This means that those of us on the East coast may have a hard time spotting the eclipse, as the Moon will be setting more or less right as it's entering Earth's shadow (the more dramatic, ruddy colors typically associated with a total lunar eclipse won't likely become noticeable until around 4:45 am PST). Views will improve, however, as you move north and west; in fact, Alaska should be able to catch the eclipse in its entirety, right up until the Moon leaves the Earth's shadow around 12:30 PST.
Those of you in the Eastern Hemisphere will be able to catch the eclipse come Saturday night, starting at moonrise. In Sydney, the Moon will enter Earth's shadow at 10:33 pm, with the total eclipse occurring between 1:06 and 1:57 am Sunday morning.
The figure shown here was created by NASA to give you an idea of what phase of the eclipse the Moon will be in when it dips below your horizon tomorrow morning (or rises above it tomorrow evening, if you're living in the Eastern Hemisphere).
This table from SPACE.com translates the information from the NASA figure above and throws in sunrise times for 11 major cities. An asterisk (*) in the table denotes that the Moon has already passed through the total eclipse and is in the process of emerging from Earth's shadow.
SPACE.com also reports that for people on the West Coast of the US, there will be a chance to observe an unusual effect known as a "selenelion," wherein both the sun and the eclipsed Moon can be seen in the sky at the same time. For more information on this seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon, check out SPACE.com.
Top image by Akira Fujii via