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How Long Does A Lunar Eclipse Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up To Two Hours

A somewhat rare scenario that happens about twice or thrice every year is a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon comes into the shadow of the earth. This occurrence is rare as the moon, the sun, and the earth are not always aligned in a straight line or at least very closely aligned.

The first lunar eclipse has been mentioned in the Chinese book that is based Zhou Dynasty. The first recorded lunar eclipse happened on January 29th, 1137 BC. It has been centuries since then, but the lunar eclipse still occurs multiple times each year.

The lunar eclipse is complete only when the earth is aligned between the moon and the sun. Also, a lunar eclipse only happens during a full moon. The lunar eclipse is not a permanent thing and is over in some time. It can be a different period till the lunar eclipse is visible in the sky.

How Long Does A Lunar Eclipse Last?

The lunar eclipse shows the moon to be reddish due to the Rayleigh Scattering of blue light effect. The only light that falls on the moon is the light that refracts from the earth. Hence, the reddish hue. Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is visible from anywhere in the world where there is nighttime.

Even when the lunar eclipse is visible to half of the world in the night, it does not mean that the lunar eclipse will be visible all through the night. It is only visible for up to 2 hours on the eclipse day.

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However, different types of lunar eclipses may last for different periods. There are four different types of lunar eclipses. The type of lunar eclipses is Penumbral lunar eclipse, Partial lunar eclipse, Total lunar eclipse, and Central lunar eclipse.

Some lunar eclipses like the total lunar eclipse can last for two hours, while some eclipses like penumbral lunar can even last for 6 to 7 hours.

Type of lunar eclipseThe time for which the lunar eclipse lasts
Penumbral lunar eclipse6 hours 2 minutes
Partial lunar eclipse3 hours 28 minutes 24 seconds
Total lunar eclipse1 hour 45 minutes
Central lunar eclipse1 hour 47 minutes

Why Does A Lunar Eclipse Last That Long?

The lunar eclipse lasts way longer than the solar eclipse. There are a few reasons why the lunar eclipses last for that long. Some of the reasons are as below:

  • The primary reason for which a luna eclipse can stay that long is the type of lunar eclipse that occurs. If the complete or total lunar eclipse is considered, it can last for about an hour and 45 minutes. Other lunar eclipses can last for a much longer time.
  • Another aspect that comes into the calculation of the time for which the lunar eclipse might last is the location of the moon, the sun, and the earth. Unlike a solar eclipse, the surface of the lunar eclipse is much larger as the earth is in between the moon and the sun. It is a big contributing factor for the time for which the lunar eclipse might last.
  • Since the area at which the moon’s shadow falls is large, and even the rotation of the earth is considered, it takes a pretty long time for the eclipse to disappear.
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Depending upon the type of eclipse, it can take a lot of time for the moon to come out of the shadow that is cast on it by the earth. The rotation of the earth and the revolution of the moon determine the overall time for which the lunar eclipse is going to be visible.

The moon does not always revolve around the earth at an equal distance. When the moon is the farthest from the moon, it will take more time for the moon to come out of the shadow. That is why some lunar eclipses are longer than others.

Conclusion

Eclipses, whether solar or lunar are a sight of wonder for humans. The interaction of the results of the celestial things in such a view brings a lot of surprise to humans.

The fact that the lunar eclipses last for almost more than 2 hours makes it an unmissable thing.

References

  1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature08050
  2. https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/0004-637X/755/2/103/meta
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