Near-total lunar eclipse to grace the sky tonight

By Mare Haimona-Riki

The moon will turn red tonight in a near-total lunar eclipse - and it will be the longest partial lunar eclipse that is fully visible from Aotearoa in more than 800 years.

The moon's face will be 97% covered by the deepest part of the Earth's shadow, turning the lunar surface briefly red.

Astronomy educator at The Stardome Observatory and Planetarium Josh Kirkley says the reason this particular eclipse is special is because of the long time it will be on display. 

"It's going to be one of the longest we've had in about 800-years," he says. 

It will take place over three hours and 28 minutes in our night sky - the longest since the year 1212. 

Weather permitting, skygazers will see the near-total eclipse begin very soon after the moonrise at 8 pm. They will then see Earth’s shadow gradually cover the surface of the Moon as it rises higher in the sky.

"The weather is looking pretty favourable around the motu today but it will be rising in the northeast, so if anyone lives near a maunga, head up to the peak and you should get a nice view."

Kirkley says the Moon will also be only a few degrees away from Matariki in the sky, and they will rise at a similar time.

"As the eclipse is happening, we will have Matariki just below the moon, so it's going to be a little tricky to see when the moon is rising but as it dims, you'll be able to see the cluster of stars.


Begins: Fri, Nov 19, 2021 at 8:20 pm

Maximum: Fri, Nov 19, 2021 at 10:04 pm 0.974 Magnitude

Ends: Fri, Nov 19, 2021 at 23:48 pm

Duration: 3 hours 28 minutes