Lunar eclipses occur when Earth’s shadow blocks the sun’s light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth’s shadow completely covers the moon. The next lunar eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse on July 27, 2018.

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Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that. Below, you’ll find the science and history of lunar eclipses, learn how they work, and see a list of the next ones on tap. [See also our guide to Solar Eclipses.]

When is the next lunar eclipse?

The last lunar eclipse was on August 7, 2017. It was a partial lunar eclipse.

Here is a schedule of upcoming lunar eclipses:

  • Already Occurred – January 31, 2018: Total eclipse. Visible from Asia, Australia, Pacific Ocean, western North America.
  • July 27, 2018: Total eclipse. Visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.
  • January 19, 2019: Total eclipse. Visible from North and South America, Europe, Africa.
  • July 16, 2019: Partial eclipse. Visible from South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia.

NASA keeps a list predicting lunar eclipses until 2100. They also keep data about past lunar eclipses. During the 21st century, Earth will experience a total of 228 lunar eclipses, according to the space agency.

This montage of images taken by skywatcher Kieth Burns shows the Dec. 20, 2010 total lunar eclipse. The photos won a NASA contest to become an official NASA/JPL wallpaper for the public.


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