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But many kinds of careful observations of a lunar eclipse can hold scientific interest.For example, we can try to get a good indication of the size of Earth's shadow by timing when it first appears to encroach upon the disk of the moon and when the last vestige of the shadow moves off the moon's disk (referred to as "contact timings").Almost two and a half years have passed since the moon last plunged completely into the Earth's shadow.But if you live in Hawaii, Alaska or the western half of North America, be sure to put a big circle on your calendar for Wednesday, Jan. Early that morning, you will have an opportunity to see the second full moon of January — popularly known as a "Blue Moon" — become totally eclipsed.This could help make the upcoming eclipse a relatively dark one.
Some eclipses are such a dark, blackish gray that the moon nearly vanishes from view.
How bright this ring around the Earth appears depends on global weather conditions and the amount of dust suspended in the air.
A clear atmosphere on Earth means the moon will appear bright during the lunar eclipse.
As a consolation, however, there will be less than a year to wait for another North American total lunar eclipse that will be fully visible from start to finish for these locations.
This week, we will concentrate solely on viewing the moon during the total phase of the eclipse.