January 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse: Shadow View

  • Released Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:11AM
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In the early morning of January 31, 2018, the Moon enters the Earth's shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse, the first since September of 2015. This animation shows the changing appearance of the Moon as it travels into and out of the Earth's shadow, along with the times at various stages.

Alaska and Hawaii are in the best positions in the U.S. to observe the eclipse. Areas west of the Mississippi River see at least part of the total phase, while for those to the east, the Moon sets before the main event begins. Australia, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, China, Mongolia, Russia, Japan, Korea, and India are all well-placed for viewing totality.

The penumbra is the part of the Earth’s shadow where the Sun is only partially covered by the Earth. The umbra is where the Sun is completely hidden. The Moon's appearance isn't affected much by the penumbra. The real action begins when the Moon starts to disappear as it enters the umbra at about 3:48 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. An hour later, entirely within the umbra, the Moon is a ghostly copper color, and this lasts for over an hour before the Moon begins to emerge from the central shadow.

The view in this animation is geocentric. Because of parallax, the Moon's position against the background stars will look a bit different for observers at different locations on the surface of the Earth. The Moon is in the constellation Cancer.



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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio


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