A spectacular full moon will grace the night sky on Sunday night. It marks not only abut also a — thanks to a lunar eclipse.
The last total lunar eclipse took place a year ago, on May 26, 2021. If the weather is good, millions of skywatchers in the Americas, Europe and Africa will be able to see 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, hiding the moon from sunlight.
During totality, the moon will be a faint, reddish glow as the red wavelengths of sunlight filter through our planet’s atmosphere onto the moon’s surface. At different times during the eclipse, shades of orange, yellow, or brown may also appear.
“When this happens, the only light reaching the moon’s surface comes from the edges of Earth’s atmosphere,” the space agency explains. “The air molecules in Earth’s atmosphere scatter most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects off the moon’s 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 appears slightly larger and brighter than usual because it is at the closest point to Earth in its orbit, known as perigee.
It is also the moon of flowers, one of the names given to the full moon in May due to the abundance of flowers associated with spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It has also been called the corn-planting moon and milk moon.
how to watch
Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special glasses to prevent eye damage, a lunar eclipse is safe to view 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 pm ET on May 15, NASA says, as the moon enters Earth’s shadow. Totality, when the moon is fully covered by our planet’s shadow, follows around midnight, lasting about an hour and a half.
It will end around 2 am ET.
According to NASA, viewers in the eastern US will see the eclipse begin with the moon well above the horizon, while those in the central part of the country will see it begin about an hour and a half after dark. On the west coast, the moon will rise when totality is already underway, so the best views will be to the southeast.
That way, East Coast viewers will be able to see the event high in the sky, but West Coast viewers 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 an ideal view: NASA will broadcast the event live, showing views from around the world and answering viewers’ questions about the phenomenon.