The moon's disappearing act

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Mark May 15 on your calendar. A full lunar eclipse is waiting in the shadows.

A little after 9 p.m. (EDT) that evening the moonlight will start looking redder and dimmer. Colorful red-orange hues often precede a lunar eclipse as sunlight is filtered and bent by Earth's atmosphere before it reaches the moon.

By 9 p.m., as you look south-southeast about 19 degrees above the horizon, the moon will have started moving through the northern half of Earth's outer shadow - what astronomers call the penumbra.

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The moon will start to disappear from sight at 10:03 p.m.

If it's a clear night, totality, where the moon is completely dark, will last a little less than an hour. Totality varies depending on the position of the observer, the Earth, and the planet's shadow.

The most exciting minutes will be those just before totality. By 11:10 p.m. (EDT) a fingernail slice of white moon will be visible at lunar northeast. Then, for almost an hour, the moon will go dark, a black orb floating in the starry twinkle of a black sky.

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