Watch the Blood Moon Eclipse in the SF Bay Area on Sunday

Watch the Blood Moon Eclipse in the SF Bay Area on Sunday

There will be a total lunar eclipse on Sunday evening, and as a full moon dips into Earth’s dark inner shadow, its surface will turn a deep, rusty red. For this reason, lunar eclipses are often referred to as blood moons.

The view from the San Francisco Bay Area will be unusual as the May 15 eclipse begins at 6:32 p.m. before the moon rises in the east at 8:04 p.m., said Gerald McKeegan, assistant astronomer at the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland.

“So by the time the moon rises, it will already be partially in Earth’s umbra and will be that familiar rusty red color,” McKeegan wrote in an email. “Maximum totality will occur at dusk at 8:29 p.m. when the moon is still very low in the east. The moon will begin to emerge from the umbra at 9:54 p.m., by which time the sky will be completely dark.”

Since the eclipse will be underway when the moon rises in the east, Bay Area residents want to watch the celestial event from a location with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. McKeegan recommends watching the show in the sky from a high ridge, saying ideal vantage points include Skyline Boulevard in the East Bay, Inspiration Point near Tilden Park in Berkeley, or Highway 92 on the peninsula.

The view is also dependent on weather conditions, and the National Weather Service said cloud was in the forecast for Sunday as of Wednesday. However, this could change in the coming days.

“There are still major differences in how the actual system is tracked into the Pacific Northwest,” said Weather Service meteorologist David King. “If it stays further north, we might see more clearing.”

King said fog could also obscure views of the moon along the coast.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view directly with the eyes, binoculars, or a telescope, advises NASA.

Lunar eclipses are rare, but not uncommon, McKeegan said. The last total lunar eclipse occurred on May 26, 2021. Last year there were two lunar eclipses and this year a second one will occur in the night hours between November 7th and 8th.

A lunar eclipse unfolds when the sun, earth, and moon align and the moon moves into the earth’s shadow. McKeegan explained that Earth’s shadow consists of two concentric circular shadows, the fainter outer penumbra and the darker, reddish inner umbra. When the moon transitions fully into the umbra shadow, it turns a brilliant red color and astronomers call it a total lunar eclipse.

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