On the early morning of Wednesday, October 8th, a total lunar eclipse will be visible across most of North America as long as skies cooperate. This will be the second of four total lunar eclipses that come at 6-month intervals in 2014 and 2015 – referred to as a lunar eclipse tetrad – and all four can be seen from parts of North America. The first eclipse of the tetrad took place on April 14-15 of this year, but this next one will feature a moon that is 5% larger in diameter coming two days after perigee. A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned (in "syzygy") exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon.
The interesting part about this upcoming total lunar eclipse for those in the eastern US is that it will occur just before dawn in the very low western sky before the moon actually sets below the western horizon and this viewpoint should offer great photo opportunities if skies cooperate. The rough timetable in the Mid-Atlantic region is as follows: eclipse begins around 4:15 am, it reaches totality around 6:30 am at which time it should be completely red (above) and very close to the western horizon, and then the moon will set below the western horizon around 7:00 am. Start looking now for a wide open view of the western horizon.