A rare total lunar eclipse, over 100 minutes in length, will occur on Wednesday night and will be visible in Israel from about 8:00 p.m. local time Wednesday evening until 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning.
Rabbi Shai Valter, the head of the institute for sanctification of the new month at the Kerem yeshiva in Yavne, explained about the eclipse in an interview with Arutz Sheva’s Hebrew website.
“A lunar eclipse is a phenomenon which occurs occasionally but not every month, because the path of the moon and the Earth is tilted at an angle of five degrees, and only twice a month does the moon intersect the plane in which Earth orbits the sun,” he explained. “When the moon is between the Earth and the sun a solar eclipse occurs, and when the earth is aligned between the sun and the moon, a full lunar eclipse occurs and this is what will be happening Wednesday night.”
Rabbi Valter pointed out that the dates of a lunar eclipse can be calculated many years in advance. “There are cycles of 18.6 years and thus the next occurrence of a lunar eclipse or a solar eclipse can be calculated,” he said.
“The earth casts a shadow into space,” added Rabbi Valter. “When the moon is above or below the shadow, then no eclipse occurs, but when half of the moon enters the shadow a lunar eclipse occurs, and when the entire moon enters the shadow a full eclipse occurs.”
He explained that this time the lunar eclipse will be especially longer since “the moon does not go up or down but rather stays very close to the center of the Earth’s shadow, and that is why the total eclipse goes on for so long.”