COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Something occurred early on Tuesday, Nov. 8, that has never happened before.
According to EarthSky.org, Tuesday morning marked the first total lunar eclipse on Election Day in U.S. history (since 1776).
The lunar eclipse was visible for several hours, ending just before sunrise. Many people got a good look without needing special equipment.
Earth aligned exactly between the sun and moon (syzygy), effectively blocking out sunlight from reaching the lunar surface, which was covered by Earth’s deep shadow, or umbra. (The outer shadow is called the penumbra.).
“The partial phases begin at about 4:09 a.m. (Eastern time) for the Columbus area,” Stevens said. “The Moon will be about 30 degrees above the western horizon when the dark part of the Earth’s shadow — the umbra — begins to mask its surface.”
At the start of totality (5:16 a.m.), the moon was a little more than 20 degrees above the western horizon, ending at 6:42 a.m. Twilight diminshed the luster in the partial phase leading up to sunrise (7:09 a.m.), just before the moon set.
The full Beaver Moon — named by Native Americans for the time when active beavers build dams for the winter — took on a reddish glow, known as a “blood moon”.
The coppery hue occurs because red and orange light waves are bent (refracted) passing through the edge of Earth’s atmosphere and reflected on the moon. We observe the light of all the sunrises and sunsets around the world simultaneously at this time.
The last lunar eclipse on Election Day in the U.S. was in 1846, but was only a penumbral eclipse that “grazed the lighter part of the Earth’s shadow,” according to Don Stevens, astrophysicist and observatory directory at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio.
The next total lunar eclipse won’t happen until March 14, 2025, so be sure to catch the celestial event early Tuesday if you are up shortly before dawn!