What is a Lunar Eclipse?
A lunar eclipse is when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon causing a shadow of Earth on the Moon. The shadow can partially or totally cover the Moon, giving us partial and total eclipses.
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are obviously safe to observe without protective gear for the eyes. You may notice that the moon looks spectacularly bright just before and after the eclipse. The Moon’s surface is rather reflective, and close to the time of a lunar eclipse you are seeing the most direct reflection possible from the Moon’s surface. If it is a very clear night, you will get a beautiful view of the moon. You will see various phases of illumination similar to those observed over the course of a lunar cycle.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the full Moon lines up precisely with the Earth and the Sun, and the Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon. Greek astronomers had figured that out over 2000 years ago, and knew that the curved shadow on the Moon indicated that the Earth was a sphere.