Tonight Alaskans will see the full moon glowing an eerie red due to a total
lunar eclipse. Earth’s shadow will completely consume the moon 30 minutes
after it rises. It will appear red until about 7:45 p.m. and will slowly
begin to fade as it moves out of Earth’s shadow. By 9:00 p.m. the moon will
have passed completely through Earth’s shadow and will return to its normal
So why will the moon glow red? Earth blocks all direct sunlight from the
moon during a total lunar eclipse; however indirect sunlight is still able
to bathe the moon after passing through Earth’s atmosphere. This filtering
process sieves most of the blue-colored-light and what remains is a red
glow. The shade of red light illuminated on the moon is dependent on cloud
cover and what may be floating in Earth’s atmosphere.
Total lunar eclipses are safe to watch and don’t require any special
equipment. Nov. 9, 2003 was the last time a total lunar eclipse was visible
in Alaska. The next total lunar eclipse visible in state will be in 2007.