How to watch this week’s rare “super flower blood moon” total lunar eclipse

A spectacular full moon is fast approaching, with plans to grace the night sky on Sunday night. Brand not just a large moonbut also a blood Moon — thanks to a lunar eclipse.

The last total lunar eclipse occurred a year ago, on May 26, 2021. If the weather is clear, millions of sky watchers in the Americas, Europe and Africa will be able to watch the total lunar eclipse on the night of May 15-16. .

What is a blood moon?

According to NASA, a blood Moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse, when the Earth is placed directly between the moon and the sun, obscuring the moon from sunlight.

During totality, the moon will be a faint reddish glow, as red wavelengths of sunlight filter through our planet’s atmosphere onto the moon’s surface. At different times during the eclipse, it might also appear to turn orange, yellow, or brown.

“When this happens, the only light that reaches the surface of the moon is from the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere,” explains the space agency. “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.”

Super blood moon and total lunar eclipse seen in Auckland
The total lunar eclipse is seen on May 26, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.

Phil Walter/Getty Images


This month’s full moon is also a supermoon, meaning it appears slightly larger and brighter than usual because it is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit, known as perigee.

It is also the flower moon, one of the names given to the May full moon due to the abundance of flowers associated with spring in the northern hemisphere. It has also been called the corn planting moon and the 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 enhance the viewing experience.

The visible part 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 will end around 2 am ET.

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Eclipse visibility map for the total lunar eclipse of May 15-16, 2022.

NASA/JPL-Caltech


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.

So viewers on the East Coast will be able to watch the event high in the sky, but those on the West Coast should find an unobstructed spot to watch from. Based on time and date, this will be the longest primetime total lunar eclipse on the West Coast this century.

But don’t worry if you don’t have optimal eyesight: NASA will broadcast the event live, showing views from around the world and answering viewers’ questions about the phenomenon.

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