If you want to see this year’s lunar eclipse, you will more than likely need to set an alarm:

During the pre-dawn hours on November 19, the moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, creating a partial lunar eclipse. This will make this year’s lunar eclipse the longest partial eclipse in 580 years.

The partial eclipse will begin at 12:02 a.m. Friday morning and last until 6:03 a.m., with it peaking around 3:02 a.m. in the western sky. At this time, the moon will appear red. 

North America will have the optimal viewing and it will also be visible in South America, Australia, and parts of Europe and Asia. 

Image from nasa.com

When is the best time to see the eclipse?
The eclipse will occur in four phases, and because this is the longest lunar eclipse in our lifetime, you will likely be able to see some phase of the eclipse.  According to NASA, at 12:02 a.m. the moon will enter the penumbra, or the lighter part of the moon’s shadow. This phase is usually hard to spot without special equipment because the darkening is so slight. 

The moon will then arrive at the umbra, or the darker part of the shadow, at 1:18 a.m. Here you will get to enjoy about 3.5 hours of the moon passing through the deep shadow until it exits the umbra at 4:47 a.m. The eclipse will end at 6:03 a.m.

How does a lunar eclipse work? 
The lunar eclipse happens when the moon passes in the Earth’s shadow. Essentially, the Earth is between the moon and the sun. At maximum eclipse this year, the moon’s face will be 97% covered by the deepest part of the Earth’s shadow. The reason that this isn’t a total lunar eclipse is because the moon will not pass directly through the middle of Earth’s shadow. 

Penumbral eclipse begins12:02 a.m. CST (0602 GMT)
Partial eclipse begins1:18 a.m. CST (0718 GMT)
Maximum eclipse3:02 a.m. CST (0902 GMT)
Partial eclipse ends4:47 a.m. CST (1047 GMT)
Penumbral eclipse ends6:03 a.m. CST (1203 GMT)

Why is the moon red? 
The moon does not create its own light, it simply reflects the sun’s light each night. Therefore, when the earth cuts off the moon’s light source, the moon darkens, only able to refract the small amount of sunlight coming through earth’s atmosphere.

There are two regions of Earth’s shadow known as the outer penumbra and the inner umbra. In the Outer Penumbra, the direct sunlight is dimmed whereas the inner umbra, sun’s light is indirect and dimmer due to refraction of light within earth’s atmosphere, leaving the moon with its brownish-reddish glow. 

Blood moon – Getty Images
Diagram of a lunar eclipse – Getty Images

Why is this such a historic event? 
In addition to being the longest partial lunar eclipse of the century, and of the last five centuries for that matter, it will also coincide with this month’s full moon, known as the Beaver Moon. This is why you may hear this event referred to as the Beaver Moon eclipse. November’s full moon has this name because this is typically when beavers are preparing for winter.