Attention: Total Lunar Eclipse Tonight

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Hello, hello. (Squelch! Tap-tap.). Ahem, this is an Atlantic Technology Channel Public Service Announcement.

Tonight, our local satellite, the moon, will experience a full lunar eclipse. It begins at 1:33 a.m. Eastern, followed by the onset of totality at 2:41 a.m., and the good folks at NASA say the best moment for viewing is 3:17 a.m. The eclipse will be visible across all North America.

Now, a lunar eclipse doesn't look like a solar eclipse. Don't expect a sharply defined perfect circle to completely blot out the face of the moon. Instead, when the Earth cuts in front of the path between the sun and the Moon, the moon takes on variety of red tones. Here's how NASA explains the rouging:

A quick trip to the Moon provides the answer: Imagine yourself standing on a dusty lunar plain looking up at the sky. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside down, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway. You might expect Earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it's not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around Earth's circumference, you're seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of Earth's shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the Moon into a great red orb.

If you take any great photos of the eclipse, though, we want to see them. This concludes your Atlantic Technology Channel PSA.

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Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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