The punchline is a letdown: Yes, the longest "blood moon" eclipse of the 21st century will occur Friday night, but no, North America won't have a view of it, unless you happen to be in a specific part of Newfoundland, Canada, Vox reports. National Geographic explains it just comes down to timing. The best part of the four-hour event will run from 3:30pm to 5:13pm ET, at which point the moon hasn't risen yet here. Eastern Africa and central Asia will enjoy the longest view of the event, during which the sun, Earth, and moon will perfectly align, casting Earth's shadow on the moon and totally obscuring the moon's light for that 103-minute period and turning the moon a red or brownish shade.
National Geographic explains we only get treated to total lunar eclipses about twice a year due to the moon's orbit. It's "tilted with respect to the planet, so the lunar orb usually glides above or below Earth's shadow," not directly in it. (Much more on that, with illustrations, here.) "This is actually almost as long as a lunar eclipse could be," an astrophysicist tells the BBC, and that's because the moon will travel through the dead center of the Earth's shadow, which is where that shadow is widest. As for when North America can next spy a lunar eclipse, mark your calendars for Jan. 21. The AP flags another "special treat" in the skies Friday: It's an extra good night to view Mars, as it's both in opposition and at its closest approach to us since 2003. (Read more lunar eclipse stories.)