Longest Lunar Eclipse in 580 years

Yes, there will be an “almost” total lunar eclipse in the early morning hours of Friday, Nov19th, 2021 – and if there are clear skies, it will be visible all across Iowa.

However, let’s talk through a few things that I’m seeing online.

#1) This is the longest lunar eclipse in 580 years.
Yes, this is true. However, all lunar eclipses like this are relatively long. It takes several hours for the moon to fall through the Earth’s shadow. So technically, there is no “quick” lunar eclipse. This one is technically longer in time than most, but that doesn’t mean it will be any better quality.

#2) You’ll have to wait 580 years to see this again.
Technically, this is true. You would have to wait another 580 years in order to see a lunar eclipse that runs this long in terms of length of time. However, if you want to see another lunar eclipse (in fact, one that is a total eclipse compared to this “near” eclipse, you would only have to wait until May 15th of 2022. That’s about 6 months from now.

Ok, so with all that out of the way, am I going to step outside to watch it? Yes. Seeing the moon turn red near maximum eclipse is still really cool. Considering it will be the wee hours of the morning and it will be lower than 30 degrees, I won’t be staying outside for long, but it’s worth a peek.

Should I wake my kids up for it?
Great question – but that’s a parent choice. Personally, I remember when my parents would wake me up for lunar eclipse, even just a glimpse of it for a few minutes. However, I also understand that can cause major concerns for some kids (and parents).

If you are going to take your kids to observe it, here are a few suggestions.

1) Don’t plan to go out for the whole eclipse.
Just because this is the longest eclipse in 580 years, does not mean you need to see all of it. Most lunar eclipses take hours and kids (and most parents) don’t have that much patience. It’s best to plan to make several quick trips to the window or outside.

2) There’s nothing to see at the start.
Most sources are reporting that the eclipse starts 12:02 am – and this again is technically true – but there isn’t anything special happening at that time. Your best option is to wait until the eclipse has progressed.

3) If I am going to wake my kids up – what times do you recommend?
Option 1) If you are going to take them out two times, then I would once as it progresses… say around 2:00 am. At this time, I would ask questions, like ” “does it seem different tonight?” Tell your kids, “We’ll come back outside in another 20 minutes or so and check on it again”. Then I would come back during the maximum of the eclipse – around 3 am. Then I would ask questions like… “What’s different? What’s changed since we saw it a little bit ago? What do you think is going on? What do you think will happen next? “

Option B) If you’re only coming out once, then I would wait until near the max eclipse, which is around 3 am.

If getting up this early is not happening for you – and you’d like a glimpse of what a lunar eclipse is like – here’s a timelapse video I made of a previous lunar eclipse over Des Moines, Iowa.

YouTube video

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