MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Get ready for an unusually beautiful moon tonight. It’s called a “Blood Moon” but it’s really just a lunar eclipse that will turn the moon a burnt reddish orange.

Tonight’s Blood Moon is just the first in a series of four consecutive total eclipses.

Within a year and a half, North America will be able to see a Blood Moon a total of four times.

So why is it called “Blood Moon?”

An eclipse happens when the moon passes through Earth’s shadow. The color of Earth’s shadow is typically a reddish hue, depending mostly on the amount of volcanic ash and other aerosols in our stratosphere. This time, our atmosphere is actually rather clean and clear so instead of blood-red, the moon may appear more orange.

If you’re lucky enough to have a few holes in the clouds, here is what you can expect to see:

1:20 am: The penumbral eclipse begins. The moon enters the Earth’s penumbra, or the weak, outer edge of its shadow. This will be tough to see at first, nothing real obvious until the true partial eclipse begins.

1:58 am: The moon enters the umbra and begins to get completely covered in a red-black shadow. This deep shadow slowly works its way across the entire lunar surface.

3:07 am: Total eclipse begins. If you were on the moon, the sun would be completely hidden now. From Earth, the moon appears as a dimly lit orange sphere.

4:25 am: The total eclipse ends and everything happens in reverse now. The full, bright moon emerges in the opposite direction from which it was hidden.

5:33 am: The eclipse ends.

If you miss it tonight, or more accurately Tuesday morning, you’ll have other opportunities. Those dates are October 8th of this year, and then April 4th and September 28th in 2015.


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