Israel lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse, as seen in Israel, when earth cast its shadow over the moon. Photo by AFP
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A total eclipse of the moon will be seen in Israel on Saturday, peaking at 4:30 P.M. and lasting just under half an hour. The moon will remain partially eclipsed until about 6:18 P.M., the Bareket observatory in Maccabim said. Saturday's eclipse is unusual because it will take place at sunset.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon passes behind the earth, so that the moon, earth and sun are aligned; the earth blocks the sun's rays from striking the moon. The moon should be completely darkened during a total eclipse, but due to the refraction of sunlight by the earth's atmosphere, the moon does not completely disappear as it passes through the earth's shadow. Instead it is lit by a pale shade of orange-red.

The observatory said it is possible to watch the lunar eclipse with bare eyes. However, observers with a telescope will be able to see many more details, such as differences in light on the moon as it moves further into the shadow earth casts on it.

The eclipse will take place when the moon shines over the eastern horizon, so it may be seen at its peak from Israel.

A total lunar eclipse usually occurs three times a year. Tomorrow's eclipse will take place when the moon is rising and the sun is setting, an extremely rare event. The last total lunar eclipse was observed in Israel about half a year ago.

In the first of the eclipse, the moon passes into the outer portion of the earth's shadow - the penumbra - and seems a little paler. Then as it enters the earth's full shadow - the umbra - it gradually reaching the stage of a total lunar eclipse. In the next stage, the moon begins emerging from the umbra and looks slightly paler, with earth's shadow appearing to be taking a bite out of it.