A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon form a nearly straight line in space, so that the full Moon passes through Earth's shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, each stage of a lunar eclipse is visible to everyone on the Moon-facing side of Earth at once. As it turns out, North and South America will turned toward the moon and will be in excellent position for this sky show. Europe, Africa and a part of western Asia will also be able to see the eclipse, although for these regions the event will take place in hours just before sunrise on the morning of Feb. 21.
Given clear skies, about three billion potential eclipse viewers will be able to partake in the spectacle of the full moon becoming completely immersed in the Earth's shadow. An additional feature of this phenomenon would be that during the eclipse, the moon will be situated in our sky, near the planet Saturn and the bright bluish star Regulus in the constellation of Leo.
The effect will be to create a uniquely beautiful triangle in the sky consisting of the totally eclipsed moon, a bright planet visible from the naked eye, and one of the 21 brightest stars in the sky.
Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special equipment to observe safely, you can watch a lunar eclipse with your unaided eyes. Binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view dramatically.
This will be the third total lunar eclipse within the past year. The previous two favored different parts of North America, but this one will be readily visible from start-to-finish across much of the continent, weather permitting.
The total phase will last 51-minutes and would begin at 10:01 p.m.