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Night sky watchers on Sunday will be treated to a glimpse of a relatively rare lunar phenomenon when a total eclipse of the moon tinges the Earth’s only satellite a haunting shade of red.

The “blood moon” total lunar eclipse will be the first visible from the entire United States since early 2019; a near-total eclipse in late 2021 failed to meet the definition for a total event. 

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow; the Earth, Moon and Sun must be perfectly aligned for such a spectacle to occur. 

The moon can be viewed as red during an eclipse, according to NASA, because “the only sunlight reaching the Moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere,” rendering that visible light less scattered than light received directly from the Sun.