A Rare and Beautiful Total Lunar Eclipse: What Time to Watch It on Tuesday Morning

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A rainbow of shaded and unshaded moons, red and white, above a jagged rock set against a black night sky.
Lunar Eclipse Over Morro Rock in Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, California, USA. This is a composite image. The moons were captured separately and overlayed into the image of Morro Rock captured at night. (Don Smith/Getty )

A rare perfect alignment of sun, Earth and moon will take place in the early morning hours of Tuesday, November 8, setting the stage for one of the most spectacular celestial events of the night sky: a total lunar eclipse.

The full moon will pass through the point in the sky exactly opposite the sun and be painted in inky darkness by Earth’s shadow.

A special treat is in store for sky enthusiasts around the Bay Area and along the West Coast, where the eclipse will be visible from beginning to end, without interruption by moonrise or moonset.

A map of the world in the background. A red moon in the center foreground with purple, blue, green yellow, orange and red lines extending across the image.
World map showing where, and how much of, the total lunar eclipse on Nov. 8, 2022, will be visible. The entire sequence of this eclipse (shown as the darkest region on the map) will be visible from half of the Pacific Ocean, including the entire West Coast of the US. Times are shown in Coordinated Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time). (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Scientific Visualization Studio)

When is the eclipse?

The eclipse begins Tuesday morning at 12:02 a.m. PST, when the moon first encounters Earth’s partial, or penumbral, shadow. You may not see much of a change immediately, but over the next hour you can witness a subtle dimming of the full moon’s brightness.

The real show begins at 1:09 a.m., when the moon contacts Earth’s full shadow, the dark umbra blocking all sunlight. In the moments after, a prominent darkening will appear at the moon’s edge as the shadow nibbles away at the bright lunar disk. By 1:50 a.m., half of the moon will be consumed.


Chabot Space and Science Center is hosting a Total Lunar Eclipse Watch Party from 11:30 p.m. on Monday evening until 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.

A diagram that shows two grey triangles streaming behind Earth's north and south poles -- that's the Penumbra. And a black triangle, Earth's Umbra, streaming from the equator.
Illustration of Earth's partial (penumbral) and full (umbral) shadows. When the moon passes through Earth's shadow, we witness a lunar eclipse. (NASA)


The climax of the eclipse, what's known as "totality," starts at 2:16 a.m. and will last almost an hour and a half. This is when the moon is fully engulfed in Earth’s dark umbra. The moon will be deepest in shadow and darkest at 2:59 a.m. If you’re only interested in waking for a few moments to catch a glimpse of the eclipse, this is the time to set your alarm for.

Totality ends at 3:41 a.m., when the moon begins to emerge from the umbral shadow into the partial sunlight of the penumbra, where only some of the sun’s light is blocked. If you’re a die-hard fan of lunar eclipses, you can stay up until the eclipse officially ends at 5:56 a.m. — but totality is the best part of the show, so when that’s over you can go back to bed and not worry about missing much.

Why doesn't the moon completely disappear at totality?

During a total lunar eclipse, the moon passes through Earth’s full shadow, the umbra, where no direct sunlight falls, yet it is still lit up in a dull orange or reddish light.

Sunlight that slips around the edges of the Earth is bent and filtered by our atmosphere, its twilight rays shining into the dark umbra like a dim night-light. We see the same rosy glow at dusk every evening as sunlight is scattered over the horizon to illuminate the landscape, even after the sun has set. The same atmospheric glow passes on into space, shedding its radiance into Earth’s shadow. 

The white moon partially shadowed in red and white.
Total lunar eclipse on Jan. 20, 2000. This photograph was taken during totality; one edge of the moon appears brighter since it was crossing near the edge of Earth's dark umbral shadow, and not deeply through the center. (Chabot Space and Science Center/Conrad Jung)

An astronaut standing on the moon and looking back at the Earth during a total lunar eclipse would see a black disk rimmed in a ring of fiery light that includes all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets in one stunning view.

How often do lunar eclipses occur?

Lunar eclipses occur regularly, anywhere between two and four times per year. Some are partial eclipses, when the moon only grazes Earth’s umbral shadow. Some are penumbral eclipses, where the moon misses the umbra completely and only passes through Earth’s half-shadow, its light dimming so subtly it might not even be noticed.

A total lunar eclipse happens about every two and a half years, on average, and is only visible from half of our planet, and in some locations only partially. So, November’s full, end-to-end eclipse is a very rare treat for people on the West Coast who can enjoy it — and well worth getting up in the middle of the night to witness.

Benjamin Burress has been a staff astronomer at Chabot Space and Science Center since July 1999.