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Press Release

Total Lunar Eclipse: January 9, 2001

Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC

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The first eclipse of the Third Millennium1 occurs on Tuesday, January 9, 2001. This event is a total eclipse of the Moon and is visible from Europe, Africa and Asia.

1The Third Millennium begins on January 1, 2001 NOT 2000 as was erroneously reported by the media last year. Our modern calendar dating system was devised in the sixth-century by the monk Dionysius Exiguous. This calendar begins on January 1 of the year 1 A.D., not year 0 A.D.. A little 3rd grade arithmetic will tell you that the First Century ended on December 31, 100 A.D., and not 99 A.D.. Similarly, the First Millennium ended on December 31, 1000 A.D.. For more information on the subject see:

But I digress...

An eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of Earth's shadow. The shadow is actually composed of two cone-shaped parts, one nested inside the other. The outer or penumbral shadow is a zone where Earth blocks some (but not all) of the Sun's rays. In contrast, the inner or umbral shadow is a region where Earth blocks all direct sunlight from reaching the Moon.

If the Moon passes through only part on the umbra, a partial eclipse is seen. However, if the entire Moon passes through the umbral shadow, then a total eclipse of the Moon occurs. For more information on what, why, how, when and where of lunar eclipses, see the special web site lunar eclipses for beginners.

The total phase of a lunar eclipse is called Totality. At this time, the Moon is completely immersed within the Earth's shadow. During the January 9 eclipse Totality will last 1 hour and 2 minutes. This is considerably shorter that the previous total lunar eclipse on July 16, 2000 which lasted a remarkable 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Unfortunately, the total phase of January's eclipse will not be visible from the U.S. since it occurs before moonrise. Observers in the northeastern U.S. (i.e. New England) will be able to see the final stages of the partial phases just as the Moon rises at sunset. For Canadians in the Atlantic provinces (Labrador, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and eastern Quebec), the Moon rises in total eclipse. Strong evening twilight will interfer with eclipse watching until the sky grows dark enoungh. By then, the total phase will be over for most obeservers. Nevertheless, Canadians will enjoy a better view of the final partial phases than their American neighbors to the south.

Europe, Africa and Asia are better positioned to observe the entire eclipse, weather permitting. Central Australia's viewing conditions are similar to Canada's except that the Moon is setting during totality instead of rising. Western Australia is better favored since totality occurs earlier before morning twilight interferes.

Eclipse Map

Map showing the global visibility of the Total Lunar Eclipse of 2001 Jan 09.
(Click to see larger version of this map)

P1 - Penumbral eclipse begins (not visible to the eye)
U1 - Partial eclipse begins
U2 - Total eclipse begins
U3 - Total eclipse ends
U4 - Partial eclipse ends
P4 - Penumbral eclipse ends (not visible to the eye)

The map above shows the exact geographic regions of visibility for each phase of the eclipse. The entire eclipse is visible from start to finish in the white (unshaded) portion of the map. In contrast, no portion of the eclipse is visible from within the dark grey area.

For anyone located in the blue shaded region labeled Eclipse at Moonrise, this means that the Moon will rise while some phase of the eclipse is already in progress. The contact curves labeled P1, U1, U2, U3, U4, and P4 represent each phase of the eclipse (see the key above). If you are west (left) of a particular curve, that phase occurs before moonrise and you will not see it. However, if you are east (right) of a curve, that phase occurs after moonrise and you will see it (weather permitting!).

Let's use New England as an example. On the above map, New England lies just west (left) of the U3 curve (totality ends). This means that New England will just miss seeing totality. But since New England is east of the U4 curve (partial eclipse ends), observers there will see the Moon rise in parial eclipse just after sunset.

For observers located within the second blue shaded region labeled Eclipse at Moonset, the situation is reversed. Here the Moon sets while some phase of the eclipse is still in progress. If you are east (right) of a particular curve (P1, U1, U2, U3, U4, or P4), that phase occurs after moonset and you will not see it. However, if you are west (left) of a contact curve, that phase occurs before moonset and you will see it (weather permitting!).

All total eclipses start with a penumbral followed by a partial eclipse, and end with a partial followed by a penumbral eclipse (the total eclipse is sandwiched in the middle). Since the penumbral phases of the eclipse are so difficult to see, we will ignore them.

From start to finish, January's lunar eclipse lasts over three hours. The partial eclipse begins as the Moon's eastern edge slowly moves into the Earth's umbral shadow. During the partial phases, it takes just over an hour for the Moon's orbital motion to carry it entirely within the Earth's dark umbra. Since no major volcanic eruptions have taken place recently, the Moon will probably take on a vivid red or orange color during the 1 hour and 2 minute long total phase. After the total phase ends, it is once again followed by a partial eclipse as the Moon gradually leaves the umbral shadow.

The major phases of the eclipse occur as follows. The penumbral phase begins at 17:43.7 GMT, but most observers will not be able to visually detect the shadow until 18:15 GMT or so. The partial eclipse commences with first umbral contact at 18:42.1 GMT. Totality begins at 19:49.6 GMT and lasts until 20:51.6 GMT. The partial and penumbral phases end at 21:59.1 GMT and 22:57.6 GMT, respectively.

Total Lunar Eclipse of January 09, 2001
Event Time
Partial Eclipse Begins: 13:42* 18:42 19:42 20:42 21:42 22:42 23:42 00:42**
Total Eclipse Begins: 14:50* 19:50 20:50 21:50 22:50 23:50 00:50** 01:50**
Mid-Eclipse: 15:21* 20:21 21:21 22:21 24:21 00:21** 01:21** 02:21**
Total Eclipse Ends: 15:52* 20:52 21:52 22:52 23:52 00:52** 01:52** 02:52**
Partial Eclipse Ends: 16:59 21:59 22:59 23:59 00:59** 01:59** 02:59** 03:59**

* Not visible from New England because event occurs before moonrise

** Event occurs on morning of January 10, 2001

EST - Eastern Standard Time (= GMT - 5 hrs)
GST - Greenwich Mean Time
GST+1 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 1 Hour (= GMT + 1 hrs)
GST+2 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 2 Hour (= GMT + 2 hrs)
GST+3 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 3 Hour (= GMT + 3 hrs)
GST+4 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 4 Hour (= GMT + 4 hrs)
GST+5 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 5 Hour (= GMT + 5 hrs)
GST+6 - Greenwich Mean Time Plus 6 Hour (= GMT + 6 hrs)

The table above gives Greenwich Mean Time as well as local time of the major eclipse phases for a number of time zones in Europe, Africa and western Asia. Eclipse times for other time zones can be calculated by taking the difference between local time and Greenwich and adding it to the tabulated GMT times. For more information, see Time Zones

To calculate the eclipse circumstances for your city, visit the U. S. Naval Observatory's Lunar Eclipse Computer.

Eclipse Diagram

Path of the Moon through Earth's umbral and penumbral shadows
during the Total Lunar Eclipse of 2001 January 09.
(Greenwich Mean Time)

Lunar Eclipse Diagrams

The following diagrams show the Moon's path through Earth's shadows (higher resolution versions of the above figure). The times of major stages of the eclipse are given for a number of time zones. Please choose the diagram for your own time zone.

Permission is freely granted to reproduce these eclipse diagrams when accompanied by an acknowledgment:

"Courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/GSFC ("

Some people may be puzzled that the Moon's motion is from west to east in these diagrams, instead of its daily east to west motion. However, the Moon actually moves WEST to EAST with respect to the Earth's shadow and the stars.


At the instant of mid-totality (20:20.6 GMT), the Moon will stand at the zenith for observers in Oman. At that time, the umbral eclipse magnitude will be 1.1944. From the diagram above, it is clear that the southern (bottom) edge of the Moon will dip much deeper into the Earth's shadow than will the northern (top) edge. Sinced the Earth's umbral shadow is darker in the center than at the edge, the Moon's appearance will likely change dramatically with time. A large variation in shadow brightness can be expected and observers are encouraged to estimate the Danjon value at different times during totality ( Danjon Brightness Scale). Note that it may also be necessary to assign different Danjon values to different portions of the Moon at different times.

During totality, the winter Milky Way and constellations will be well placed for viewing. Castor and Pollux lie 8-10 degrees north of the eclipsed Moon, while the Beehive cluster (M44) in Cancer is 17° to the east. Jupiter, Saturn and the Pleiades form an attractive trio in Taurus, about fifty degrees west of the Moon.

An eclipse of the Moon also presents a tempting target to photograph. Fortunately, lunar eclipse photography is easy provided that you have the right equipment and use it correctly.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to watch. You don't need any kind of protective filters. It isn't even necessary to use a telescope. You can watch the lunar eclipse with nothing more than your own two eyes. If you have a pair of binoculars, they will help magnify the view and will make the red coloration brighter and easier to see. A standard pair of 7x35 or 7x50 binoculars work fine. Remember to dress warmly and enjoy the spectacle!

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Eclipse Frequency and Future Eclipses

During the five millennium period from 2000BC through 3000 AD, there are 7,718 eclipses1 of the Moon (including both partial and total). There are anywhere from 0 to 3 lunar eclipses (including partial and total) each year. The last time that three total lunar eclipses occurred in one calendar year was in 1982. Partial eclipses slightly outnumber total eclipses by 7 to 6.

The last total lunar eclipse visible from all of the United States occured on Jan. 20, 2000. The last total lunar eclipse occured on July 16, 2000 and was visible from western U.S. Hawaii and the Pacific Ocean. North Americans won't have another opportunity to see a total lunar eclipse until May 16, 2003.

The table below lists every lunar eclipse from 2000 through 2005. Click on the eclipse Date to see a map and diagram of an eclipse. Click on the Region of Eclipse Visibility to see a detailed description of an eclipse. Although penumbral lunar eclipses are included in this list, they are usually quite difficult to observe because of their subtlety. The penumbra is a partial shadow which still permits some direct sunlight to reach the Moon.

The Umbral Magnitude is the fraction on the Moon's diameter immersed in the umbra at maximum eclipse. For values greater than 1.0, it is a total eclipse. For negative values, it is a penumbral eclipse. The Total Duration is the duration of the total phase (total eclipses only).

Lunar Eclipses: 2000 - 2005
Geographic Region of
Eclipse Visibility
2000 Jan 21 Total 1.330 78m Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa
2000 Jul 16 Total 1.773 108m Asia, Pacific, w Americas
2001 Jan 09 Total 1.195 01h02m e Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia
2001 Jul 05 Partial 0.499 - e Africa, Asia, Aus., Pacific
2001 Dec 30 Penumbral -0.110 - e Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas
2002 May 26 Penumbral -0.283 - e Asia, Aus., Pacific, w Americas
2002 Jun 24 Penumbral -0.788 - S. America, Europe, Africa, c Asia, Aus.
2002 Nov 20 Penumbral -0.222 - Americas, Europe, Africa, e Asia
2003 May 16 Total 1.134 00h53m c Pacific, Americas, Europe, Africa
2003 Nov 09 Total 1.022 00h24m Americas, Europe, Africa, c Asia
2004 May 04 Total 1.309 01h16m S. America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Aus.
2004 Oct 28 Total 1.313 01h21m Americas, Europe, Africa, c Asia
2005 Apr 24 Penumbral -0.139 - e Asia, Aus., Pacific, Americas
2005 Oct 17 Partial 0.068 - Asia, Aus., Pacific, North America

Geographic abreviations (used above): n = north, s = south, e = east, w = west, c = central

1 Only eclipses where the Moon passes through Earth's umbral shadow are included in these values. A lesser type of eclipse is the penumbral eclipse which occurs when the Moon passes through the Earth's faint penumbral shadow. Penumbral eclipses are rarely discernable to the naked eye and are of lesser importance than umbral eclipses.

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Live Web Coverage of the Eclipse

We will list links for live web coverage of the eclipse as they become available.

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Web Resources

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