As interest in astrotourism grows, eclipse chasing has become an increasingly popular activity. Whether you travel to see an eclipse or are lucky enough to enjoy them as they pass over your home, there’s no denying that eclipses are powerful and humbling to experience.
After the total lunar eclipse on January 20-21, 2019, you may wonder when the next eclipse is occurring. This post has everything you need to know, including the science behind eclipses, when the next eclipse will happen, and tips on having a great viewing experience.
What is a Lunar Eclipse?
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth, and moon line up such that the shadow cast by the earth passes over the moon.
Because of the distances between the sun, earth, and moon, the earth’s shadow is actually made up of two parts: the penumbra which is a fainter, less focused shadow, and the umbra, which is a more focused, darker shadow. Here’s a quick graphic to give you a sense for how this works.
It’s important to note that the umbra and the penumbra don’t match up exactly like this – and they certainly don’t stop once they reach the moon. For this graphic, we wanted you to get a quick understanding of how the different parts of the earth’s shadow work when they pass onto the moon.
When the moon is in the earth’s shadow, it actually doesn’t turn dark: it turns red. This is due to the way light bends around the earth as it moves toward the moon. This is why a lunar eclipse is often called a blood moon.
There are three types of lunar eclipse: a partial lunar eclipse (when the moon passes partially through the earth’s umbra), a total lunar eclipse (when the moon passes totally through the earth’s umbra), and a penumbral lunar eclipse (when the moon passes only through the earth’s penumbra). Here’s a quick graphic to show you what each type looks like.
While we can always spot a total lunar eclipse due to its distinctive color (remember: “blood moon”), it can be harder to spot a partial lunar eclipse if you’re not expecting it. A penumbral lunar eclipse is difficult for most people to spot; amateur and professional astronomers might know what to look for, but you’ve really got to know exactly how to see the differences in the moon during a penumbral lunar eclipse.
The July 2019 lunar eclipse is a partial eclipse – the moon won’t turn completely red and only about 50% covered at its maximum.
The rest of this post focuses on the partial lunar eclipse in mid-2019.
Important Details of the Lunar Eclipse in July 2019
The 2019 partial lunar eclipse happens in the middle of the year! Mark your calendars so you can try to see the eclipse on the night it happens… But be prepared that it may be cloudy since it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, which is the majority of the area of the globe covered by the umbra during this eclipse.
When Will the Lunar Eclipse Occur in July 2019?
The lunar eclipse in 2019 will occur on July 16-17, 2019. The partial lunar eclipse will begin at 8:01pm UTC on July 16th, and the partial eclipse will end at 10:59pm UTC on July 16th. For those further east than the UTC (GMT) time zone, the eclipse may end on July 17th
Depending on your time zone, the entire eclipse may occur on either July 16th or July 17th. Be sure to double check the time for your time zone!
Days Until the Lunar Eclipse 2019:
Where Will the July 2019 Lunar Eclipse be visible?
Typically, lunar eclipses are visible from a much larger part of the earth than a solar eclipse. This is true for the July 2019 lunar eclipse. The partial lunar eclipse will be visible across all of South America, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Australia/Oceania. Parts of Europe and Asia will also experience the partial lunar eclipse.
- The lunar eclipse in South American countries including Chile, Brazil, Peru, and all countries on the continent.
- It will be visible in African countries including South Africa, Namibia, Morocco, Egypt and every country on the continent.
- It will also be visible in Middle Eastern countries including Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and other countries in the region.
- All of Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia will experience the lunar eclipse, as will Australia and New Zealand.
The lunar eclipse will also be visible in parts of Europe, including parts of the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, and Italy. It will be visible in parts of Russia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.
Most of North America will not be able to see the partial lunar eclipse at all.
2019 Lunar Eclipse Map
Below you’ll find a map of the lunar eclipse path. The countries in red will experience the total lunar eclipse. Countries in purple will experience a partial lunar eclipse, and countries in white will not experience a lunar eclipse.
Click the image to learn more about the path of the 2019 partial lunar eclipse.
Lunar Eclipse Info: Blood Moon, Astrology & More
As mentioned, a lunar eclipse is often called a blood moon due to its distinctive reddish hue during the event. This has led to some superstitions and myths about lunar eclipses.
For example, the ancient Inca people believed a lunar eclipse was caused by a jaguar devouring the moon. They would shout and yell and shake their spears at the moon to try and scare the jaguar away. The Mesopotamians believed that all eclipses were bad omens for their rulers; they would place a ‘proxy king’ on the throne during an eclipse and hope the wrath of the gods fell on that man instead of the king. The Batammaliba people in Togo and Benin believe a lunar eclipse is a feud between the sun and moon which must be solved – and people on earth should settle their feuds during this time too.
Blood moons also play a role in astrology. While the full moon on its own is an important part of the astrological calendar and predictions about how the moon will affect our lives, a blood moon is typically interpreted by astronomers to have an even more dramatic effect – they say that what ever’s going on at that time may be even more powerful.
While lunar eclipses are astronomically interesting, these myths and legends don’t change the fact that we can predict and enjoy a lunar eclipse whenever they occur.
Tips for Viewing the 2019 Lunar Eclipse
Since a lunar eclipse is visible across a greater surface of the planet, and it lasts longer, it’s much easier to see a lunar eclipse than a solar eclipse. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience.
Safety Tips for Viewing the Lunar Eclipse
Unlike a solar eclipse, there’s no danger from looking at the moon during a lunar eclipse. You don’t need any special equipment or to take extra precautions to enjoy a blood moon.
As the 2019 lunar eclipse is happening in July, be sure to bundle up and stay warm while outside. You don’t want to get too cold to keep you from enjoying the lunar eclipse!
How to Photograph the Lunar Eclipse 2019
Photographing a lunar eclipse is much easier than photographing a solar eclipse, partially because it lasts much longer! While totality during a solar eclipse can last anywhere between 1-10 minutes, totality for the 2019 partial lunar eclipse will last 178 minutes… Plenty of time to get the perfect shot!
Photo credit: US Army Corps of Engineers via Flickr
Since lunar eclipses happen at night, it’s best to consider these astrophotography tips to help you get the perfect shot:
- Be sure to bring the right gear. You’ll need a tripod, remote, and extra batteries to help make sure your camera is stable and you don’t run out of power while shooting photos of the blood moon.
- Set your camera on manual. You’ll want to have relatively slow shutter speed and a moderately high ISO (800-3200). Set your aperture relatively low too, so you capture enough light from the red moon in your frame.
- Set your focus back from infinity. Though the moon is far away, you’ll want to set you manual focus slightly back from infinity to get a crisp, clear shot.
Here are some other astrophotography tips that are specific to lunar eclipses:
- The lunar eclipse will create lighting problems. It doesn’t seem like the moon is very bright, but as you photograph a lunar eclipse, you’ll find that any sliver of the “fully lit” moon (the part not in the earth’s shadow) will appear ‘blown out’ in your photos. You’ll need to adjust your settings to let in the light from the shadowed part of the moon without washing out the bright part of the moon. This takes practice so…
- Shoot a lot. Shoot several shots with your settings, then adjust and see what you get. A lunar eclipse is a great chance to practice astrophotography skills and still capture great shots.
- Consider composites. As you’ve seen from some of the photos in this article, creating a composite photo of your lunar eclipse shots is a great way to visually display the whole experience!
Don’t forget to read our post on mastering astrophotography with more detail on each of these tips.
When is the Next Lunar Eclipse?
After the July 2019 lunar eclipse, the next lunar eclipse will occur on May 26-27, 2021. This will be a total lunar eclipse that passes across the Pacific Rim region.
Photo by the author
The next partial lunar eclipse will occur November 18-19, 2021, and will cover parts of Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and parts of Europe and Africa.
We will update this post with data about the next lunar eclipse soon!