Outer Banks night owls get a chance to see near total eclipse of moon early Friday

What the near total eclipse will look like, with times in UTC. Subtract five hours for times on the Outer Banks. [image courtesy NASA]

A deep partial lunar eclipse will darken the moon for much of North America overnight tonight, as most locations will see up to 97 percent of the moon slip into Earth’s shadow. And it will be the longest lasting eclipse since the 15th century.

But the weather is going to have to cooperate. Plus, you will have to either stay up all night or get up really early to see it.

With just thin sliver of the moon exposed to direct sun at maximum eclipse, the rest of the moon should take on the characteristically deep reddish colors of a total lunar eclipse, EarthSky.org reports.

The moon will first touch the shadow of the Earth (the penumbra) at 1:02 a.m. The partial eclipse will start to become visible at 2:18 a.m. Friday, reach its maximum at 4:02 a.m., and end at 5:47 a.m.

After the moon sets over the western horizon at 6:53 a.m., it will leave the shadow of the Earth at 7:03 a.m.

But we may be dealing with clouds and rain as a front crosses the region starting Thursday night through Friday morning.

The current National Weather Service forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies and a 40 percent chance of showers, mainly between 8 p.m. Thursday and 5 a.m. Friday.

This is the second lunar eclipse of 2021, and is taking place less than two days before the moon reaches its farthest point from Earth this month, known as apogee. That’s why the eclipse will last so long.

EarthSky.org also notes that the moon’s ascending node in Taurus, and will be placed near the famous Pleiades – aka the Seven Sisters – making for a great photo opportunity.

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Sam Walker was news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3 from August 2011 to March 2022.