Longest Lunar Eclipse Since 2000 Starts Tomorrow

The longest total lunar eclipse since July 2000 will occur tomorrow, but astronomy fans across most of the Northern Hemisphere won’t be able to catch the rare celestial spectacle.

Total lunar eclipses occur when the Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon, casting a deep shadow through which the moon then travels through. Unlike solar eclipses, it is perfectly safe to view a lunar eclipse with the naked eye.

This year’s incredible eclipse will be best visible to skywatchers in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Australia for a total of 100 minutes.

In the last 100 years, only three other eclipses have rivaled the duration of totality of this eclipse, according to Joe Rao, a writer for Space.com. The last lunar eclipse of similar length occurred on July 16, 2000 and lasted 107 minutes.

According to the NASA Eclipse Website, Eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and New Zealand will miss the final stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset.

North American skywatchers forced to miss this spectacular event can take heart however, as the second lunar eclipse of 2011 will occur on Dec. 10 and will also be a total lunar eclipse. According to experts it should be visible from the western United States and Canada.

In addition, several sites will be hosting live webcasts of tomorrow’s eclipse. Check out Bareket Observatory’s Live Broadcast here to watch the event over the web.

via CSM