Election Day Opens With Total Lunar Eclipse

Start your 2022 Election Day on a positive note by witnessing a total lunar eclipse in the early hours of Tuesday, November 8. In the Eastern time zone (EST), the partial eclipse begins at 4:08 AM when the moon readily appears to enter earth's dark umbral shadow. Totality lasts a long 85 minutes. The show ends shortly after 7:49 AM or earlier when the moon sets, depending on your location. See timeanddate for simulated view from your site.

[Added 03 NOV 2022: NASA describes it well, of course, at What You Need to Know About the Lunar Eclipse.

See also Universe Today's Guide to Tuesday’s Total Lunar Eclipse.]

Illustration of 2022 Nov. 8 eclipse contact times
Eclipse times shown in Eastern Standard Time (EST) in yellow by subtracting 5 hours from Universal Time (UT). Adapted from image courtesy of Fred Espenak, www.EclipseWise.com

The moon moves through the shadow (and the background stars) from west to east (right to left) as the moon orbits the earth monthly, but the moon (and the background stars) appears to move quickly east to west during the night as the earth rotates daily.

Earth always casts two main shadows out into space in the direction opposite the sun--a faint penumbral shadow and a darker umbral shadow. Usually in its monthly orbit around earth the moon passes a little above or a little below the shadows, but when the sun, earth, and moon more nearly align we see a part or all of the moon darken. I dismiss the penumbral phase of the eclipse when the moon is in the fainter shadow, for most people can hardly discern the difference from a full moon then.

On Election Day, the moon will pass entirely through the umbral cone, yielding a total lunar eclipse. Totality begins at 5:16 AM and the moon darkens slightly until maximum eclipse at 5:59 AM. It's only about 15 degrees above the horizon then and heading toward moonset, so you'll need a clear view to the west with a low horizon.

Totality ends at 6:41 AM and the edge of the moon brightens as it comes out of the dark umbral shadow. In South Bend, IN, the moon sets at 7:34 AM, but if you view it from further west the show continues until the partial eclipse ends at 7:49 AM.

While the full moon will darken toward the oranger hue as the moon sets in the west, at the same time the brightening dawn sky will wash out the eclipsed moon somewhat. Be sure you have a clear horizon to the west. For observers in the area dubbed Michiana, as totality begins the moon is only 23 degrees above the horizon, equivalent to just over two fists held out at arm's length. When totality ends at 6:41 the moon is less than one fist above the horizon, again as seen from Michiana.

Eclipse details from Fred Espenak are at https://www.eclipsewise.com/lunar/LEprime/2001-2100/LE2022Nov08Tprime.html. The next total lunar eclipse will occur March 14, 2025, though there will be some partial eclipses and penumbral eclipses in the interim. EarthSky notes this is the first time a total lunar eclipse has happened on Election Day in the US.

Don't be intimidated by the early hours. Though the eclipse times are in the early AM, it occurs only three days after the US switches from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time. Maximum eclipse on November 8 would be equivalent to around 7:00 AM just a few days earlier.

A NASA visualization gives another perspective of the event.

Image courtesy of NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

[Added 03 NOV 2022: NASA describes it well, of course, at What You Need to Know About the Lunar Eclipse.

See also Universe Today's Guide to Tuesday’s Total Lunar Eclipse.]

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