Last Minute Guide to Tonight's Lunar Eclipse and Aurora


The seven phases of the eclipse are listed at left with time zones across the top — EDT (Eastern Daylight); CDT (Central Daylight); MDT (Mountain Daylight); PDT (Pacific Daylight); Alaska Daylight (AKDT) and Hawai'i-Aleutian Standard Time (HAST). Find your time zone, then read down the column for your local times. Blank boxes indicate parts of the eclipse that won't be visible from that time zone.

Here's a last quick look at the upcoming total lunar eclipse that will grace skies across the Americas Wednesday morning, May 26th. From most locations it occurs as night gives way to dawn. The table shows the local viewing times for six different time zones from the East Coast to Hawai'i. If you live in Denver, for example, the partial eclipse begins at 3:45 a.m. local time, with the moon entering total eclipse at 5:11 a.m. shortly before sunrise. Only folks living in the Pacific Time Zone and points west will see totality in a dark sky.

Wednesday's dawn eclipse will resemble a similar eclipse from back in the late 1980s. For the eastern half of the U.S. and Canada, the moon will set while still in partial eclipse. Bob King

Since the moon will hover low in the southwest in a brightening dawn sky, be sure to find a location with an unobstructed view in that direction. 
Before the moon glides into Earth's umbra (inner shadow) — which marks the start of the partial eclipse — it passes through the outer penumbral shadow. 

This map shows what you'll see depending on where you live. Eastern Seaboard skywatchers will only see the early penumbral eclipse. NASA / JPL-Caltech with additions by the author

You probably won't notice anything until about 20 minutes before the onset of the partial eclipse, when the penumbra will be visible as a gray shading along the moon's upper left edge. In Duluth, Minn. (CDT), that would be around 4:25 a.m. As always, a pair of binoculars will enhance your view of all aspects of the eclipse, especially when the moon moves into the Earth's reddened shadow. Also, remember that tonight you can watch the full moon rise around sunset . . .  and then set the next morning at sunrise just "half-full!" Click here for your local moonrise time.

This is the sun photographed at 12 noon CDT on Tuesday, May 25 through a small, filtered telescope. Two sunspot groups are seen. Region 2824 flared multiple times last weekend and blasted material toward the Earth that's expected to arrive tonight and stoke a geomagnetic storm. Bob King

Ever profligate, nature may trot out the northern lights as a warm up act for tonight's eclipse. A moderate (G2) geomagnetic storm is still in the forecast and expected to peak between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. CDT (May 25-26). The moon will wash out much of the aurora, but assuming the storm occurs, you should be able to see something. Keep an eye on the northern sky for low, bright arcs and faint plumes or rays that unfurl like May ferns. 

For further details about the eclipse, please see my earlier story

Good luck and clear skies!


  1. The Moon was a thin crescent when it disappeared into a cloud bank just before sunrise. Jupiter was bright too. Worth getting up for

  2. I'm trying to send this a third time. The Moon was a thin crescent when it dropped in to a cloud bank. Nice view of Jupiter. Worth getting up for.

  3. Unfortunately I won't be able to see much of the eclipse.. But in August we are flying to Fairbanks and hopefully a bus ride to the Arctic Circle. We will be staying just 3 nights but hoping to see Northern Lights even with the Full Moon

    1. The full moon will definitely compromise the aurora, but I once experienced one of the most amazing auroras of my life under a full moon. Good luck! It sounds like a wonderful trip.

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