Total Eclipse of the Moon: April 15, 2014
by Fred Espenak
A total eclipse of the Moon occurs during the early morning hours of April 15, 2014 and is visible from most of North and South America. For observers in westernmost North America and Hawaii, the eclipse actually begins on the evening of April 14. Northwestern Africa and Greenland will see the beginning stages of the eclipse before moonset while northeastern Asia and Australia witness the later stages after moonrise.
During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon's disk can take on a dramatically colorful appearance from bright orange to blood red and more rarely dark brown to very dark gray. One of the great things about lunar eclipses is that they are completely safe to view with the naked eye. No special filters are required to protect your eyes like those used for solar eclipses. You don't even need a telescope to watch the eclipse, although a good pair of binoculars will help.
An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other. The outer shadow or penumbra is a zone where Earth blocks some (but not all) of the Sun's rays. In contrast, the inner shadow or umbra is a region where Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.
When only part of the Moon passes through the umbra, a partial lunar eclipse is seen. If the entire Moon passes through the umbral shadow, then a total eclipse of the Moon occurs. It is also possible to have an eclipse where the Moon passes through only the penumbra. Each of these three eclipses has a unique appearance (see Visual Appearance of Lunar Eclipses). For more information on the how, what, why, when and where of lunar eclipses, see the special web page Lunar Eclipses for Beginners.
Path of the Moon through Earth's umbral and penumbral shadows
during the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014.
This version of the diagram gives times in Eastern Daylight Time.
(click for larger diagram)
Lunar Eclipse Diagrams
The following diagrams (in high resolution) show the Moon's path through Earth's shadows during April's eclipse. The times of major eclipse stages are given for time zones throughout North America. Please choose the diagram for your own time zone. Each diagram is a GIF file with a size of about 110 KB.
- Eclipse Diagram for GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for ADT (Atlantic Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for EDT (Eastern Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for CDT (Central Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for MDT (Mountain Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for PDT (Pacific Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for AKDT (Alaska Daylight Time)
- Eclipse Diagram for HST (Hawaiian Standard Time)
The diagrams above of the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014 by Fred Espenak, www.MrEclipse.com are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
From the eastern and central USA and Canada (time zones ADT, EDT and CDT), the eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of April 15. From the western USA and Canada (time zones MDT and PDT) and Alaska (AKDT), the eclipse acually begins before midnight on the night of April 14, and ends on the morning of April 15. For observers in Hawaii (time zone HDT), entire eclipse occurs on the evening of April 14.
Some people may be puzzled that the Moon's motion in these diagrams is from west to east (right to left), instead of its daily east to west (left to right) motion across the sky. However, the Moon actually moves WEST to EAST (right to left in the Northern Hemisphere) with respect to the Earth's shadow and the stars. At the same time, the Moon, Earth's shadow and the stars all rise in the east and set in the west.
2004 Lunar Eclipse Sequence
The total lunar eclipse of Oct. 28, 2004 was widely visible from the USA.
This sequence of images captures the eclipse from start (right) to finish (left).
(click to see larger image)
Times and Phases of April's Total Lunar Eclipse
From start to finish, April's lunar eclipse lasts about three hours and thirty-five minutes (not including the penumbral phases which are very difficult to see). The partial eclipse begins as the Moon's eastern edge slowly moves into the Earth's umbral shadow. During the partial phases, it takes just over an hour for the Moon's orbital motion to carry it entirely within the Earth's dark umbra.
The color and brightness of the totally eclipsed Moon can vary considerably from one eclipse to another. Dark eclipses are caused by volcanic gas and dust which filters and blocks much of the Sun's light from reaching the Moon. Although Indonesia's Mount Kelud has undergone recent volcanic eruptions, it has not produced enough dust and gas to significantly darken April's eclipse. Expect the total phase to appear bright red or orange, which is typical (see: What Will 2014's Lunar Eclipses Look Like?). After the total phase ends, it is once again followed by a partial eclipse as the Moon gradually leaves the umbral shadow. The Visual Appearance of Lunar Eclipses describes what each of these eclipse phases looks like.
The total phase of a lunar eclipse is called totality. At this time, the Moon is completely immersed within Earth's dark umbral shadow. During the April 15 eclipse totality will last nearly 77 minutes. This is slightly longer than the USA's last total lunar eclipse on December 21, 2010 which lasted 72 minutes.
The major phases of the eclipse occur as follows (all times are GMT or Greenwich Mean Time). The partial eclipse commences with first umbral contact at 05:58 GMT. Totality begins at 07:07 GMT and lasts until 08:25 GMT. The partial phases end at 09:33 GMT. Eclipse times for time zones in the United States and Canada are shown in the following table. Most areas of the United States currently observe Daylight Saving Time (DST). Two notable exceptions are Arizona (although the Navajo Nation does observe Daylight Saving Time) and Hawaii. For observers in Arizona, use the times listed under Pacific Daylight Time (PDT).
|Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014|
|Partial Eclipse Begins:||05:58 am||02:58 am||01:58 am||12:58 am||11:58 pm*||10:58 pm*||09:58 pm*||07:58 pm*|
|Total Eclipse Begins:||07:07 am||04:07 am||03:07 am||02:07 am||01:07 am||12:07 am||11:07 pm*||09:07 pm*|
|Greatest Eclipse:||07:46 am||04:46 am||03:46 am||02:46 am||01:46 am||12:46 am||11:46 pm*||09:46 pm*|
|Total Eclipse Ends:||08:25 am||05:25 am||04:25 am||03:25 am||02:25 am||01:25 am||12:25 am||10:25 pm*|
|Partial Eclipse Ends:||09:33 am||06:33 am||05:33 am||04:33 am||03:33 am||02:33 am||01:33 am||11:33 pm*|
* Event occurs on evening of April 14, 2014
|Key to Time Zones|
|GMT||Greenwich Mean Time|
|ADT||Atlantic Daylight Time (GMT - 3 hours)|
|EDT||Eastern Daylight Time (GMT - 4 hours)|
|CDT||Central Daylight Time (GMT - 5 hours)|
|MDT||Mountain Daylight Time (GMT - 6 hours)|
|PDT||Pacific Daylight Time (GMT - 7 hours)|
|AKDT||Alaska Daylight Time (GMT - 8 hours)|
|HDT||Hawaii Standard Time (GMT - 10 hours)|
The table above provides times of the major eclipse phases for North American time zones and Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Eclipse times for other time zones can be calculated by taking the difference between local time and Greenwich and adding it to the tabulated GMT times. For more information, see Time Zones. (Note: Although GMT is still in common use, it has actually been replaced by Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is based on atomic time.)
Visibility of the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014
April's lunar eclipse is perfectly placed for most of North and South America where the entire event will be visible. Observers in northwestern Africa and the eastern half of South America will miss some stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Similarly, observers in Japan and Australia will miss the early stages of the elipse since it begins before moonrise. New Zealand sees the entire eclipse except in the southwest where the eclipse is already in progress at moonrise. No part of the eclipse is visible from Europe, most of Africa, the Middle East or most of Asia.
Preceeding and following the eclipse are hour-long penumbral phases but these are faint and quite difficult to see. The more interesting and photogenic partial and total phases always take center stage to the penumbral phases (see The Pale Penumbral Phase).
|Key to Eclipse Visibility Map|
|U1||Partial eclipse begins|
|U2||Total eclipse begins|
|U3||Total eclipse ends|
|U4||Partial eclipse ends|
The Visibility Map above for the Total Lunar Eclipse of April 15, 2014 by Fred Espenak, www.MrEclipse.com is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
The map above shows the geographic regions of visibility for each phase of the eclipse. The entire eclipse is visible from start to finish in the white (unshaded) portion of the map, while none of the eclipse can be seen from the dark gray areas.
For anyone located in the light gray shaded region labeled Eclipse at Moonset, this means that the Moon will set while some phase of the eclipse is in progress. The contact curves labeled U1, U2, U3, and U4 represent each phase of the eclipse (see the key above). If you are east (right) of a particular curve, that phase occurs after moonset and you will not see it. However, if you are west (left) of a curve, that phase occurs before moonset and you will see it (weather permitting).
For example, on the above map Newfoundland lies west (left) of the U3 curve (total eclipse ends) and east (right) of the curve U4 (partial eclipse ends). This means that from this region, the Moon sets during the partial phases following totality.
For observers located within the second light gray shaded region labeled Eclipse at Moonrise, the situation is reversed. Here the Moon rises while some phase of the eclipse is already in progress. If you are west (left) of a particular curve (U1, U2, U3, or U4), that phase occurs before moonrise and you will not see it. However, if you are east (right) of a contact curve, that phase occurs after moonrise and you will see it (weather permitting).
All total eclipses begin with penumbral and partial phases before totality. After the total phase, the eclipse ends with more partial and penumbral phases. Since the penumbral phases of the eclipse are so difficult to see, we will ignore them.
The Total Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 2000 was a very long total eclipse (1 hour 47 minutes)
that won't be exceeded for over a thousand years.
(click for larger image)
At the instant of mid-totality (07:46 GMT), the Moon will lie in the zenith for observers in the South Pacific Ocean near Easter Island. At this time, the umbral eclipse magnitude peaks at 1.291. Eclipse magnitude is the fraction of the Moon's diameter immersed in Earth's umbral shadow at greatest eclipse. This value is always 1.0 or larger for total eclipses.
From the eclipse diagrams shown earlier, it is clear that the northern (top) edge of the Moon will dip much deeper into the Earth's shadow than will the southern (bottom) edge. Since Earth's umbral shadow is darker in the center than at the edge, the Moon's appearance will likely change dramatically with time as the total phase progresses. A large variation in shadow brightness can be expected and observers are encouraged to estimate the Danjon value at different times during totality ( Danjon Brightness Scale).
This could be an excellent opportunity for budding astronomers and students to test their observing skills. Try recording your estimates of the Moon's brightness every ten minutes during totality using the Danjon Brightness Scale. Compare your results with your companions and classmates and discover how the Moon's appearance changes during the total eclipse. The brightness of the totally eclipsed Moon is very sensitive to the presence of volcanic dust in Earth's atmosphere. As part of a continuing research project, Dr. Richard Keen has been using reports of lunar eclipse brightnesses to calculate a history of optical thicknesses of volcanic dust layers (see: What Will the 2014 and 2015 Lunar Eclipses Look Like?). If you'd like to help Dr. Keen by making eclipse observations, you can contact him .
The amount of dust and sulfur dioxide in Earth's atmosphere also has an effect on the diameter of the umbral shadow. Amateur astronomers with telescopes can make careful timings of when some of the Moon's major craters enter or exit the umbra. Such observations are valuable in determining the enlargement of Earth's shadow. A table of crater predictions identifies twenty well-defined craters useful for this purpose. For more information, see: Crater Timings During Lunar Eclipses.
An eclipse of the Moon also presents a tempting subject to photograph. Since the Moon appears quite small in the sky, you'll need a fairly powerful telephoto lens (400 mm or more) or even a small telescope to attach to your camera. A typical ISO 400 speed (either digital or film) is a good choice. For more information on equipment, film, recommended exposures and additional tips, see How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to watch. Protective filters are not necessary and neither is a telescope. A lunar eclipse can be observed with nothing more than the naked eye. However, a pair of binoculars will magnify the view and make the red coloration brighter and easier to see. A standard pair of 7x35 or 7x50 binoculars is sufficient.
During the eclipse, the Moon will be at its ascending node in Virgo. The bright blue star Spica lies just 2° west of the eclipsed Moon. This juxtaposition is similar to the total lunar eclipse of April 13, 1968 when Spica appeared only 1.3° southwest of the Moon at mid-totality. The brilliant blue color of Spica made for a striking contrast with the crimson Moon.
The red planet Mars will also be conspicuous shining brightly about 9° northwest of the Moon. Having just passed opposition (its nearest point to Earth) just one week earlier, Mars is still very bright and may ever outshine the Moon at mid eclipse.
Although total eclipses of the Moon are of limited scientific value, they are remarkably beautiful events which do not require expensive equipment. They help to cultivate interest in science and astronomy in children and to provide a unique learning opportunity for families, students and teachers. To the nature lover and naturalist, the lunar eclipse can be appreciated and celebrated as an event which vividly illustrates our place among the planets in the solar system. The three dimensional reality of our universe comes alive in a graceful celestial ballet as the Moon swings through Earth's shadow. Hope for clear skies, dress warmly and enjoy the show!
The Pale Penumbral Phase
The penumbral phases of the eclipse have been mentioned several times as being difficult to see. In fact, the start of the penumbral eclipse (at 4:53 GMT) is impossible to see. Even when half of the Moon's disk is immersed in the pale penumbral shadow, no trace of it is visible with or without a telescope. This is why the penumbral phases of the eclipse have been downplayed here.
You'll have to wait until about 2/3 of the Moon's disk is in the penumbra before the first hint of the shadow becomes visible (about 5:35 GMT). It is a very diffuse and subtle shading that gradually grows stronger in time. About ten minutes before the partial phase begins (5:48 GMT), the penumbral shading is much more apparent, but the Moon's disk is only diminished slightly in brightness.
The most interesting stage of the penumbral phase is during the last two minutes just before the edge of the Moon's disk begins to enter the umbral shadow (the start of the partial eclipse). Now the penumbral shading is apparent even to the naked eye. Still, this stage of the eclipse literally pales in comparison to the dynamic partial phases and the gloriously beautiful totality.
After totality and the partial phases end (9:33 GMT), the penumbral phases occur in reverse. The Moon exits the penumbra at 10:38 GMT but no trace of the shadow is visible to mark the event.
To get an idea of what to expect during the deeper penumbral phases, see Visual Appearance of Lunar Eclipses.
|Total Lunar Eclipses of 2014-2015|
|Total Lunar Eclipse of
2014 Apr 15
|Total Lunar Eclipse of
2014 Oct 08
|Total Lunar Eclipse of
2015 Apr 04
|Total Lunar Eclipse of
2015 Sep 28
Click on any of the above figures for a closer look.
Tetrads: Four Consecutive Total Lunar Eclipses
April's eclipse is the first to two total lunar eclipses in 2014. The second eclipse is on October 08 and it too is visible from the USA. In this case, the western USA sees the entire eclipse while the eastern USA misses the end of the eclipse because the Moon sets while the eclipse is still in progress.
These two eclipses of are the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses (each separated by six months) - a series known as a tetrad. The third and fourth eclipses of the tetrad occur on April 04, 2015 and Sept. 28, 2015 .
During the 5000-year period from 2000 BCE through 3000 CE, there are 3479 total lunar eclipses. Approximately 16.3% (568) of all total eclipses belong to one of the 142 tetrads occurring over this period. The mechanism causing tetrads involves the eccentricity of Earth's orbit in conjunction with the timing of eclipse seasons. During the present millennium, the first eclipse of every tetrad occurs during the period February to July. In later millennia, the first eclipse date gradually falls later in the year because of precession.
Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli first pointed out that the frequency of tetrads is variable over time. He noticed that tetrads were relatively plentiful during one 300-year interval, while none occurred during the next 300 years. For example, there are no tetrads from 1582 to 1908, but 17 tetrads occur during the following 2 and 1/2 centuries from 1909 to 2156. The ~565-year period of the tetrad "seasons" is tied to the slowly decreasing eccentricity of Earth's orbit. Consequently, the tetrad period is gradually decreasing (Meeus, 2004). In the distant future when Earth's eccentricity is 0 (about 470,000 years from now), tetrads will no longer be possible.
The umbral magnitudes of the total eclipses making up a tetrad are all relatively small. For the 300-year period 1901 to 2200, the largest umbral magnitude of a tetrad eclipse is 1.4251 on 1949 Apr 13. For comparison, the magnitudes of some other total eclipses during this period are much larger. Two examples are the total eclipses of July 16, 2000 and June 26,2029 with umbral magnitudes of 1.7684 and 1.8436, respectively.
The table below gives the dates of each eclipse in the 8 tetrads occurring during the 21st century. The last tetrad prior to 2014 was in 2003-04 while the next group is in 2032-33.
|Total Lunar Eclipse Tetrads from 2001 to 2100|
|Tetrad #||1st Eclipse||2nd Eclipse||3rd Eclipse||4th Eclipse|
|1||2003 May 16||2003 Nov 09||2004 May 04||2004 Oct 28|
|2||2014 Apr 15||2014 Oct 08||2015 Apr 04||2015 Sep 28|
|3||2032 Apr 25||2032 Oct 18||2033 Apr 14||2033 Oct 08|
|4||2043 Mar 25||2043 Sep 19||2044 Mar 13||2044 Sep 07|
|5||2050 May 06||2050 Oct 30||2051 Apr 26||2051 Oct 19|
|6||2061 Apr 04||2061 Sep 29||2062 Mar 25||2062 Sep 18|
|7||2072 Mar 04||2072 Aug 28||2073 Feb 22||2073 Aug 17|
|8||2090 Mar 15||2090 Sep 08||2091 Mar 05||2091 Aug 29|
This multiple exposure sequence shows both partial and total phases of the Total Lunar Eclipse of January 21, 2000.
(click for larger image)
Eclipse Frequency and Future Eclipses
During the five millennium period from 2000 BCE through 3000 CE, there are 7,718 eclipses  of the Moon (including both partial and total eclipses). From 0 to 3 lunar eclipses (partial or total) occur each year. The last time three total lunar eclipses occurred in one calendar year was in 1982. On average, partial eclipses slightly outnumber total eclipses by 7 to 6 .
The last total lunar eclipse visible from the entire continental United States occurred on December 21, 2010. North Americans will have their next opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse on April 15, 2014.
The table below lists every lunar eclipse from 2014 through 2020. Click on the eclipse Date to see a map and diagram of an eclipse. Although penumbral lunar eclipses are included in this list, they are usually quite difficult to observe because of their subtlety. The penumbra is a partial shadow that permits some direct sunlight to reach the Moon.
The Umbral Eclipse Magnitude is the fraction on the Moon's diameter immersed in the umbra at maximum eclipse. Partial eclipses have a magnitude less than 1. For magnitudes of 1 or greater, the eclipse is total. For negative magnitudes, the eclipse is penumbral. The Eclipse Duration is the duration of the entire eclipse. For total eclipses the duration of the total phase is also listed in bold.
 Only eclipses where the Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow are included in these values. A minor type of eclipse is the penumbral eclipse, which occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's faint penumbral shadow. Penumbral eclipses are rarely discernible to the naked eye and are of lesser importance than umbral eclipses.
 Penumbral eclipses are excluded from these statistics.
|Lunar Eclipses: 2014 - 2020|
|Date||Eclipse Type||Saros||Umbral Magnitude||Eclipse Duration||Geographic Region of Eclipse Visibility|
|2014 Apr 15||Total||122||1.291|| 03h35m
|Aus., Pacific, Americas|
|2014 Oct 08||Total||127||1.166|| 03h20m
|Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas|
|2015 Apr 04||Total||132||1.001|| 03h29m
|Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas|
|2015 Sep 28||Total||137||1.276|| 03h20m
|e Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa, w Asia|
|2016 Mar 23||Penumbral||142||-0.312||-||Asia, Aus., Pacific, w Americas|
|2016 Sep 16||Penumbral||147||-0.064||-||Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus., w Pacific|
|2017 Feb 11||Penumbral||114||-0.035||-||Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia|
|2017 Aug 07||Partial||119||0.246||01h55m||Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.|
|2018 Jan 31||Total||124||1.315|| 03h23m
|Asia, Aus., Pacific, w N.America|
|2018 Jul 27||Total||129||1.609|| 03h55m
|S.America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.|
|2019 Jan 21||Total||134||1.195|| 03h17m
|c Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa|
|2019 Jul 16||Partial||139||0.653||02h58m||S.America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.|
|2020 Jan 10||Penumbral||144||-0.116||-||Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.|
|2020 Jun 05||Penumbral||111||-0.405||-||Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.|
|2020 Jul 05||Penumbral||149||-0.644||-||Americas, sw Europe, Africa|
|2020 Nov 30||Penumbral||116||-0.262||-||Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas|
Geographic abbreviations (used above): n = north, s = south, e = east, w = west, c = central
The Total Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 2000 as seen from Maui.
(click for larger image)
Lunar Eclipse Predictions
- Lunar Eclipse Preview: 2011-2030
- Eclipses During 2014 Observer's Handbook 2014
- Five Millennium Catalog of Lunar Eclipses: 2000 BCE to AD 3000 CE NASA/TP-2009-214173
- Lunar Eclipses of Historical Interest
Lunar Eclipse Photographs
- Lunar Eclipse Photographs: Gallery 1 | Gallery 2
- Total Lunar Eclipse of 1982 Jul 06: Gallery A
- Total Lunar Eclipse of 2000 Jan 20-21: Gallery A | Gallery B
- Total Lunar Eclipse of 2000 Jul 16: Gallery A
- Total Lunar Eclipse of 2004 Oct 27-28: Gallery A | Gallery B
- Partial Lunar Eclipse of 2012 June 04/05: Gallery A
- Total Lunar Eclipse of 2014 Apr 15: Gallery A