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Lunar Eclipse Tonight: Do You Need Eye Protection?

lunar eclipse, istockphoto, 4x3
istockphoto
lunar eclipse, istockphoto, 4x3
How the moon appeared during a lunar eclipse over Indianapolis on Feb. 20, 2008. (istockphoto)


(CBS/AP) Skywatchers in North and Central America are in for a treat tonight: there will be a total lunar eclipse.

Time to break out the special eyeglasses to protect your vision? Experts say that's unnecessary.

Despite what some people think, lunar eclipses are safe to watch with the naked eye (though special precautions do need to be taken when viewing solar eclipses).

During a lunar eclipse, the full moon passes through the Earth's shadow. That darkens the moon and gives it a ghostly color. The effect may be even more spectacular than usual this time, given the tons of dust that have been sent into the atmosphere by recent volcanic eruptions around the world. The moon may glow red or brown instead of the usual orange-yellow tinge.

The eclipse will occur Monday night on the West Cost and in the early morning on the East Coast. 

Cloudy skies? Don't want to brave the chill air? No worries. NASA will be streaming the eclipse live.