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Astronomical Treat Awaiting Early Risers Wednesday Morning

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/AP) -- It's an heavenly sight worthy of an all nighter. The first total lunar eclipse in more than two years will coincide with a supermoon in the San Francisco Bay Area skies beginning at around 2 a.m. Wednesday.

NASA's Noah Petro, project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, said there will be few seats around the world to view the early morning show than in California.

"Hawaii has the best seat in the house and then short of that will be California and the Pacific Northwest," Petro said.

New Zealand and Australia also will have prime viewing.

Here's a timeline from NASA of how the eclipse will unfold:

  • 1:47 a.m. -- the Penumbral Eclipse Begins
  • 2:44 a.m. -- Partial Eclipse Begins
  • 4:11 a.m. -- Today Eclipse Begins
  • 4:18 a.m. -- Maximum Eclipse
  • 4:25 a.m. -- Total Eclipse Ends
  • 5:52 a.m. -- The Partial Eclipse Ends

The moon will be more than 220,000 miles away at its fullest. It's this proximity, combined with a full moon, that qualifies it as a supermoon, making it appear slightly bigger and more brilliant in the sky.

Last month's supermoon, by contrast, was 96 miles more distant.

Unlike a solar eclipse, there's no harm in looking at an eclipsed moon.

More lunar shows are on the horizon.

"For people who might feel like we're missing out, set your calendars for Nov. 19 of this year," Petro said. This will be a nearly total eclipse where the moon dims but doesn't turn red.

The next total lunar eclipse will be May 2022. The last one was January 2019.

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