How lunar eclipses work (infographic)

What makes the moon turn dark and red? Find out in this Space.com infographic.
What makes the moon turn dark and red? Find out in this Space.com infographic. (Image credit: Karl Tate/Space.com)

There are three types of lunar eclipses (opens in new tab) — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth's shadow completely covers the moon.

Here's how it works: Earth casts two shadows that fall on the moon during a lunar eclipse: The umbra is a full, dark shadow. The penumbra is a partial outer shadow. The moon passes through these shadows in stages. When the moon is in the penumbral shadow, the eclipse is not so noticeable. But when the moon is in the umbral shadow, the apparent change in color is far more dramatic.

Editor's note: If you capture an amazing lunar eclipse photo and would like to share it with Space.com for a story or gallery, send images and comments to managing editor Tariq Malik at spacephotos@space.com. 

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Karl Tate
Space.com contributor

Karl's association with Space.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining Space.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.