A total lunar eclipse will be visible to Georgian sky-watchers this Sunday night. The eclipse will begin at 10:27 p.m. and last until 1:55 a.m. Monday morning.
The moon will temporarily change color during totality, from its usual white and gray to red. This occurence is called a blood red moon
Greg Feiden, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of North Georgia, spoke on WDUN's Newsroom to describe how a total lunar eclipse happens, and why it causes the moon to change colors.
A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, earth and a full moon come into alignment.
“As the moon passes through the Earth's shadow, light from the sun actually bends around through Earth's atmosphere through a process called refraction,” Feiden said. “It's mostly the red light that gets bent and directed towards the moon. And so we see that red light then reflecting off the moon’s surface toward us.”
The moon revolves around the earth every 28 days, but it is tilted about five degrees above or below the sun and earth’s path. Feiden attributed this reason to why total lunar eclipses only occur a few times a year.
“During a full moon, the moon is always kind of behind the Earth,” Feiden said. “It's just not directly behind it. It's slightly up and out of the way.”
The next total lunar eclipse in North America will not be visible to Georgians until 2025.
Unlike a solar eclipse, total lunar eclipse viewers will not have to wear protective glasses or special equipment.
“That's the beauty of a lunar eclipse,” Feiden said. “You can walk outside and as long as there are no clouds in the sky, you will get a really nice view of what's going on, with no special equipment needed.”