wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2
Posted at 01:17 PM ET, 06/13/2011

Lunar eclipse, first of the year, to last 100 minutes [PHOTOS]


A total lunar eclipse appears over downtown Huntsville, Ala., Jan. 20, 2000, in this six-exposure image, starting from left at about 7 p.m. EST through 1 a.m. EST Jan. 21. The orange moon in the center is the longest exposure at about 2 seconds, taken when the moon was totally in Earth’s shadow. (Glenn Baeske - AP)
This year’s first total lunar eclipse, when all or part of the sun’s light is blocked from the moon, will take place Wednesday, but astronomy fans across most of the Northern Hemisphere won’t be able to catch the rare celestial spectacle.

The incredible 100 minute-long eclipse will be visible from the eastern half of Africa, the Middle East, central Asia, and western Australia, according to PCMag. Eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and New Zealand will miss the final stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset.

“The last eclipse to exceed this duration was in July 2000,” astrophysicist Fred Espenak wrote in NASA’s eclipse guide for 2011.

Four partial solar and two total lunar eclipses are set to take place in 2011, which NASA said is “rather rare” That many eclipses in a year will only happen six times in the 21st century—in 2011, 2029, 2047, 2065, 2076, and 2094. Another eclipse will occur on Dec. 10 of this year, and will set over North America.

During a lunar eclipse, the Earth comes between the sun and the moon so that all or part of the sun's light is blocked from the moon, according to NASA.

See photos of past lunar eclipses below:


A full moon is eclipsed by the earth's shadow in this seven pictures combination, from left, seen in Nairobi, Kenya, on March 4,2007 (Akmal Rajput - AP)


A full moon rises in the night sky during a lunar eclipse above the golden domes of the Orthodox Monastery of Caves in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 4, 2004. (Efrem Lukatsky - AP)


A lunar eclipse over the Washington Monument on Nov. 8, 2003. (Preston Keres - The Washington Post)


Aligning his camera on the same star for nine successive exposures, Sky & Telescope contributing photographer Akira Fujii captured this record of the Moon’s progress dead center through the Earth’s shadow in July 2000. (Akira Fujii and Sky & Telescope)

By  |  01:17 PM ET, 06/13/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company