9 Things You Didn’t Know About Lunar Eclipses

Written by on September 26, 2015 in Earth & Space, Sci-Tech with 24 Comments

Kristen Bobst | Mother Nature Network


Quick: Brush up on your facts before the next one appears in the sky.

On Sept. 27, we’ll be treated to a supermoon eclipse. Why not brush up on your lunar eclipse knowledge beforehand? There’s much to know about these often-spectacular night sky events.

1. Lunar eclipses only occur during a full moon.

When the moon is opposite the sun, with the Earth in between casting its shadow on the moon, a lunar eclipse occurs. We don’t have a lunar eclipse at the full moon each month because the moon’s orbit is tilted 5 degrees more than the Earth’s orbit.

Related Article: Fall Equinox, Blood Moon, Lunar Eclipse: What It All Means For You

2. ‘Syzygy’ is the term for when the Earth, sun and moon align.

Jupiter, Venus and Mercury roughly align in a syzygyJupiter (top), Venus (lower left) and Mercury (lower right) are roughly aligned in the evening sky of May 26, 2013. The photograph of this syzygy was taken near the La Silla Observatory in northern Chile (Photo: Y. Beletsky/ESO/Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, it’s the term for when any three bodies line up in space. It comes from the Greek word syzgia, which means “yoked together,” and it’s pronounced like “sizigee.”

3. There are three types of lunar eclipse.

The partial lunar eclipse of Dec. 31, 2009The partial lunar eclipse of Dec. 31, 2009. A partial lunar eclipse is marked by the Earth’s shadow only covering a small portion of the moon. (Photo: Stephen Hanafin/flickr)

A lunar eclipse can be total, partial or penumbral. A total eclipse happens when the shadow of the Earth fully covers the moon. A partial eclipse (pictured above) is when the Earth’s shadow covers just a portion of the moon. A penumbral eclipse involves the Earth’s lighter outer shadow (penumbra) covers the moon. Penumbral shadows often go unnoticed by casual sky watchers.

Related Article: What Would It Be Like to Live on the Moon?

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon will go through partial eclipses on either side of totality.

4. ‘Totality’ is the term for when the moon is completely darkened.

This can only happen during a total lunar eclipse.


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24 Reader Comments

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  1. 1628623850713443@facebook.com' Aileen Manito says:

    What time?

  2. 925706220846063@facebook.com' Honeylu Haron says:


  3. focus2dream@gmail.com' Marii says:

    So there is no need for any other equipment?Can you take good picture’s with phone or camera

  4. 603877589750062@facebook.com' Susan Detwiler says:

    Im going to be watching

  5. 10206465150281069@facebook.com' Emma Webster says:

    Katie Webster

  6. 10156111151710230@facebook.com' Rachel B says:

    Bradley Buchanan

  7. 1634966233441490@facebook.com' Steven Brummette says:

    Kim Dockery, Stephen Mcclain

  8. 1007074522656892@facebook.com' Marianne Traballo says:

    Kyle Bernadette punta tayong circle mamaya, dun natin abangan ‘to.

    Mag jowa lang? Hahha

  9. 1634966233441490@facebook.com' Steven Brummette says:

    Angelia Lindsay

  10. 853299924787085@facebook.com' Hana Ransfield says:

    Wat time

  11. 1695032904064993@facebook.com' Nisha Das says:

    Perhaps at 10:11pm nd for 1 hour 12 min…

  12. 10153016142900764@facebook.com' Yotz NiKo says:

    Awesome ?

  13. 1634966233441490@facebook.com' Steven Brummette says:

    Kimberley Williams

  14. 10207769534299969@facebook.com' Jodi Colleen Goering says:

    Nick Tolman

  15. 10153154225533161@facebook.com' Kelley Mosley says:

    Catrina Ireland

  16. 1470142193294921@facebook.com' Suzi Theuma says:

    That’s the 28th for Australia

  17. 937689219636934@facebook.com' Damon Rogan says:

    Lauren Cook

  18. 1066637150037621@facebook.com' Luis Rodarte says:

    Vanessa Rodarte

  19. 10153718242563982@facebook.com' Abby Swain says:

    Lauren – just in case you didn’t get enough in your lessons the other night. ?xx

  20. 10153452031497034@facebook.com' Esther Towns says:

    Luke Binder-pollard x

  21. 10156147354540038@facebook.com' Landon Walker says:

    I doubt this is real.

  22. 10200876609154344@facebook.com' Julie Ann Herbert says:

    Julie Ann Herbert

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