Mark your calendars, the Beaver Moon eclipse is a must-see — and it’s the longest of the century!
On the morning of Friday, Nov. 19, the full Beaver Moon will take place in a 97%-total lunar eclipse, according to NASA, meaning that nearly all of the moon’s surface will be shrouded in the Earth’s shadow.
November 2021’s eclipse will be about three and a half hours long, stretching from 2:18 to 5:47 a.m. EST. The Beaver Moon eclipse will peak at 4:02 a.m. EST, NASA reports, and will be visible across North America.
This history-making, near-total lunar eclipse coincides with the full Beaver Moon, which will reach peak illumination at nearly the same moment as the eclipse’s height. But don’t worry — the moon will appear full from Thursday evening through Saturday morning, meaning you can catch an unencumbered glimpse of the full moon, too.
The Beaver Moon gets its name from beaver hunting season, which used to peak this time of year. Plus, beavers start retiring to their lodges for the winter around now, too. Other names for November’s full moon include the Digging Moon (from the Tlingit), the Whitefish Moon (from the Algonquin), and the Frost Moon (from the Cree and Assiniboine).
On the night of May 25-27, observers in Oceania, Hawaii, eastern Asia and Antarctica will see a lunar eclipse that coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth — making it a “supermoon” eclipse that will turn the moon reddish — also known as a “blood moon.” (The dates of this eclipse span two days because the area it will be visible spans the international date line).
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth as the sun. Usually we see a full moon when this happens, but every so often the moon enters the Earth’s shadow, resulting in an eclipse. This doesn’t happen every full moon because the plane of the moon’s orbit is tilted about 5 degrees from the plane of the Earth’s orbit, and the moon “misses” the shadow of the Earth.
Unlike a solar eclipse, which is only visible along a narrow track, lunar eclipses are visible from the entire night side of the Earth; this entire eclipse takes about five hours from start to finish. The timing depends a lot on what time zone you are in, relative to what is called Universal Coordinated Time (effectively the hour in Greenwich, England). In Asia, the eclipse occurs near moonrise in the evening. On the west coast of the Americas, the eclipse happens in the early morning hours, near moonset. The best viewing will be in between those two extremes: Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, the islands of the South Pacific and southwestern Alaska.
BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese space capsule bringing back the first moon rocks in more than four decades started its three-day return to Earth on Sunday.
The Chang’e 5 lunar probe, which had been orbiting the moon for about a week, fired up four engines for about 22 minutes to move out of the moon’s orbit, the China National Space Administration said in a social media post.
The craft’s lander touched down on the moon earlier this month close to a formation called the Mons Rumker, an area believed to have been the site of ancient volcanic activity. It collected about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of samples.
The return capsule is expected to land in northern China in the Inner Mongolia region after separating from the rest of the spacecraft and floating down on parachutes. The material would be the first brought back since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 probe in 1976.The rocks and other debris were obtained both by drilling into the moon’s crust and scooping directly off the surface. They may be billions of years younger than those brought back by earlier U.S. and Soviet missions, possibly offering insights into the moon’s history and that of other bodies in the solar system.China has set up labs to analyze the samples for age and composition and is also expected to share some of them with other countries, as was done with the hundreds of kilograms (pounds) brought back by the U.S. and former Soviet Union.China’s space program has a series of ambitious missions underway, including a probe en route to Mars. The Chang’e lunar program, named after the ancient Chinese moon goddess, has been operating the Chang’e 4 probe on the moon’s less explored far side for the past two years.Future plans call for returning a human to the moon and perhaps a permanent moon base. China is also building a space station to begin operating as early as 2022.
“We had indications that H2O – the familiar water we know – might be present on the sunlit side of the Moon,” said Paul Hertz, NASA’s director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. “Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”
Casey Honniball, lead author of the other study, said there are between 100 and 400 parts per million of water, or “roughly the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of water within a cubic meter of lunar soil.”
The study led by Honniball found the presence of water directly on the surface, while Hayne’s study speculated that water may be trapped in “small spatial scales” all over the surface of the moon.