Tuesday isn’t only election day in the U.S., it’s an opportunity for a rare total lunar eclipse that will turn Earth’s nearest neighbor a blood-red hue.
It’s the last opportunity for this feature in the sky 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 (0802 GMT). It will be a total eclipse at 5:16 a.m. Eastern (1016 GMT) before ending at 8:56 a.m. Eastern (1356 GMT).
If you live in an ideal viewing spot and don’t mind staying up late, especially if you have access to a telescope, high-quality camera lenses, or planetarium programming, lucky you. Weather permitting, the “blood moon” phase will be visible from 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 still 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 (0900 GMT) on Nov. 8. It includes a live blog that will showcase various milestones for the eclipse, including what other features you’ll be able to glimpse in the night sky during the early-morning eclipse.
You can also watch TimeandDate’s coverage directly from YouTube.
The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., will also offer a free livestream of the lunar eclipse at 2 a.m. local time and 4 a.m. Eastern (0900 GMT).
Lowell’s live commentary will be provided by historian Kevin Schindler and moon expert John Compton. The observatory will provide a replay for anyone who could not stay awake for the live event.
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will offer its own livestream beginning at 3 a.m. Eastern (12 a.m. PST, 0800 GMT). It will run until 9 a.m. Eastern (6 a.m. PST, 1400 GMT).
Plan to visit the Griffith Observatory YouTube page on Tuesday or sign up ahead of time for alerts to know when it goes live.
For the international perspective, check out the online Virtual Telescope Project run by astrophysicist Gianluca Masi. Masi will offer a livestream of the lunar eclipse starting at 4:30 a.m. Eastern U.S. (0930 GMT) and will host the webcast from Ceccano, Italy. The program will feature live views from an international team of astrophotgraphers and observers across the visibility range.
For those venturing outside, Space.com offers guides on how to photograph a lunar eclipse and if you’re feeling especially invested, the site has an overview of the best cameras for astrophotography and 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 full moon enters the darkest part of that shadow, known as the Earth’s “umbra,” it appears with a fiery reddish color. 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 shine on the lunar surface, according to NASA.
Up early for the lunar eclipse? Don’t forget to vote
U.S. media coverage of the Blood Moon lunar eclipse was almost universally compelled to tie the phenomenon to a pivotal midterm election that could shift the majority in Congress, shake up select gubernatorial leadership, and test the will of the voters on key ballot issues, including a “millionaires” tax in California and Massachusetts.
If a red moon is any indication, alongside 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 its fun with the calendar’s significance and what it might mean for candidates prone to look to the sky for answers.