A spectacular full moon will grace the night sky on Sunday evening. It not only marks abut also one – thanks to a lunar eclipse.
The last total lunar eclipse occurred a year ago, on May 26, 2021. When the weather is clear, millions of skywatchers in America, Europe and Africa can watch the total lunar eclipse on the night of May 15-16.
What is a blood moon?
According to NASA, aoccurs during a total lunar eclipse when the earth is positioned directly between the moon and the sun, blocking the moon from sunlight.
During totality, the moon will be a faint, reddish glow as red wavelengths of sunlight penetrate through our planet’s atmosphere to the lunar surface. At various times during the eclipse, it may also appear to turn shades of orange, yellow, or brown.
“When that happens, the only light that reaches the lunar surface comes from the edges of Earth’s atmosphere,” the space agency explains. “The air molecules from the earth’s atmosphere scatter most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects off the lunar surface with a red glow, making the moon appear red in the night sky.”
This month’s full moon is also a supermoon, meaning it will appear slightly larger and brighter than usual because it is in its orbit at the closest point to Earth known as perigee.
It is also the flower moon, one of the names given to May’s full moon due to the abundance of flowers associated with springtime in the northern hemisphere. He was also called the corn planting moon and the milk moon.
how to watch
Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special glasses to avoid eye damage, a lunar eclipse can certainly be seen with the naked eye – but binoculars or a telescope would also improve the viewing experience.
The visible portion of the eclipse will begin around 10:30 p.m. ET on May 15, NASA says, when the moon enters Earth’s shadow. Totality, when the moon is completely covered by our planet’s shadow, follows around midnight and lasts about an hour and a half.
It ends around 2 a.m. ET.
According to NASA, viewers in the eastern US will see the eclipse begin with the moon well above the horizon, while in the central part of the country it will begin about an hour and a half after dark. On the west coast, the moon rises when totality is already underway, so the best views are in the southeast.
So East Coast viewers can see the event high in the sky, but those on the West Coast should look for an unobstructed spot to watch. According to timeanddate, this will be the longest prime-time total lunar eclipse on the West Coast this century.
But don’t worry if you don’t have optimal viewing: NASA will live stream the event, showing views from around the world and answering viewers’ questions about the phenomenon.