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Longest lunar eclipse in nearly 600 years set for November 19th

Posted at 10:23 AM, Nov 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-18 17:50:20-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — We are used to seeing a few lunar eclipses every year. However, the one that is set to take place in the early hours of the morning Friday is one like we haven’t seen in nearly 600 years.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth, and moon line up perfectly, and the moon orbits through the earth’s shadow.

The lunar eclipse we will get on November 19th will reach almost 99 percent of a total eclipse. Meaning at its peak, 99 percent of the moon will be covered by the earth’s shadow. This will also be when the moon's reddish-orange color will be at its strongest. This color comes from the reflected light of the sun that travels through the earth’s atmosphere.

It is projected that the peak will occur at 3:03 a.m.

The entire eclipse itself is set to stretch from about 1:15 a.m. to 4:45 a.m., making it the longest eclipse in 580 years.

The only thing that could potentially make the viewing experience tougher is cloud coverage. It’s expected to be partly cloudy in the Omaha area, but experts say that shouldn’t discourage you.

“It’s not like solar eclipses that happen in two to three minutes, this is hours. So even the darkest red phase will last a good length of time,” Sky & Telescope’s Diana Hannikainen said. “If you see that the clouds are flitting across the sky, bundle up, stay out there, and wait for one of those holes through the clouds.”

The reason this eclipse will be so long is because the moon will be close to its furthest point away from earth. Hannikainen says because of the length of time the event will occur, you could see the earth begin to pick up that reddish-orange color around 1:30 a.m.

She says it’s a sight that you won’t want to miss.

"As with all astronomical phenomenons, all celestial sights that are in easy reach like this one, go out and enjoy it. Revel in the knowledge that we are part of this amazing solar system, and we are witnessing science in action."