Tuesday isn’t only election day in the U.S., it’s also an opportunity to see a rare total lunar eclipse that will turn Earth’s nearest neighbor a blood-red hue.
There won’t be another such eclipse until March 14, 2025.
The Beaver Blood Moon lunar eclipse, as it’s called because it happens during the full Beaver Moon of November, will begin at 3:02 a.m. Eastern time (08:02 GMT). It will reach total eclipse at 5:16 a.m. Eastern (10:16 GMT) before ending at 8:56 a.m. Eastern (13:56 GMT).
If you live in an ideal viewing spot and don’t mind staying up late (or getting up early), lucky you — especially if you have access to a telescope, high-quality camera lenses or planetarium programming. If skies are clear, the “blood moon” phase will be visible to those in North and Central America, as well as Hawaii, Alaska and parts of South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, according to NASA.
Not keen to stand outside for hours? You’ve got several free viewing options available online.
Here’s how to track the Blood Moon eclipse
The website TimeandDate.com will host a livestream of the total eclipse of the moon starting at 4 a.m. Eastern time (09:00 GMT) on Nov. 8. It includes a live blog that will showcase various milestones of the eclipse, as well as other features you’ll be able to glimpse in the sky. You can also watch TimeandDate’s coverage on YouTube.
The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., will also offer a free livestream of the lunar eclipse, starting at 2 a.m. local time, or 4 a.m. Eastern (09:00 GMT).
Lowell’s live commentary will be provided by historian Kevin Schindler and moon expert John Compton. The observatory will provide a replay for those who couldn’t stay awake for the live event.
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will offer its own livestream beginning at 12 a.m. Pacific time, or 3 a.m. Eastern (08:00 GMT). It will run until 9 a.m. Eastern (14:00 GMT). You can sign up for alerts to let you know when the event goes live on the Griffith Observatory YouTube page.
For an international perspective, check out the Virtual Telescope Project, run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi. Masi will provide a livestream of the lunar eclipse starting at 4:30 a.m. Eastern (09:30 GMT) and will host the webcast from Ceccano, Italy. The program will feature live views from a team of astrophotographers and observers located across the eclipse’s visibility range.
For those heading outside to view the eclipse in person, Space.com offers guides on how to photograph a lunar eclipse — and if you’re feeling particularly invested, the site also has an overview of the best cameras and the best lenses for astrophotography.
Why is the moon ‘blood’ red?
Total lunar eclipses happen when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow during an alignment of the Earth, moon and sun.
When the moon enters the darkest part of that shadow, known as the Earth’s umbra, it takes on a fiery reddish color. That’s because the sunlight that shines on the moon during an eclipse must first pass through Earth’s atmosphere, which scatters blue light and allows red light — which has a long wavelength and can better travel through all the material in between it and the moon — to reflect off the lunar surface, according to NASA.
Up early for the lunar eclipse? Don’t forget to vote
U.S. media covering the Blood Moon lunar eclipse were almost universally compelled to tie the phenomenon to a pivotal midterm election that could shift the majority in Congress, shake up some governor’s races and test the will of voters on key ballot issues, including a “millionaires’ tax” in California and Massachusetts.
If a red moon is any indication, according to most recent polling, Tuesday could be a winner for the “red” party, the Republicans. Others wonder if what could shape up to be a close — and potentially contested — result will have some frustrated Americans seeing red.
Social media also had fun with the timing of the eclipse and what it might mean for candidates prone to look to the sky for answers.