Get your Bonnie Tyler cassettes ready because this weekend is a total lunar eclipse.
On May 15, at approximately 9:11 p.m. PT, the Earth will pass between the sun and the moon, resulting in a shadow or eclipse on the lunar surface. For us little earthlings, that means our normally bright moon will take on a dark, coppery appearance.
How to see a mysterious red moon in the sky this weekend
It’s another fascinating astronomical event happening this week, following the release of the first image of our galaxy’s supermassive black hole. The space is just great.
So what’s going on up there this weekend? Scroll for more information.
Is there something different about this lunar eclipse?
We’ve seen lunar eclipses before and they will happen again, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to get out and see this one. This weekend’s event is special because it is a total Lunar Eclipse: The Sun, Earth, and Moon are perfectly aligned to shadow the entire surface of the Moon as Earth passes between them. This is different from a partial eclipse, in which the eclipsing shadow grows larger but never completely covers the surface, and a penumbral eclipse, where the moon only travels through Earth’s penumbra and is therefore barely shadowed.
The events of this weekend converge with the full moon of May, which some call Flower Moon and others also label as Supermoon. However, there is no clear consensus on what those names actually mean, as they are not official astronomical terms. You may also see the phrase “blood moon,” which is mostly a fun way to describe the red hue the moon is given when sunlight escapes and passes through Earth’s atmosphere.
Just know that the lunar body will appear extremely bulbous.
How often does a lunar eclipse occur?
Lunar eclipses only happen when there is a full moon, but they don’t happen. everyone Full moon. A specific alignment of the three celestial bodies is needed to result in a lunar eclipse, as the moon’s slightly tilted orbit often precludes perfect pitch.
According to NASA, eclipse seasons generally last around 35 days and occur every six months. Lunar eclipses only happen when a full moon appears during an eclipse season and everything is in the right place. The last total lunar eclipse was almost a year ago, on May 26, 2021.
What time does the lunar eclipse start?
The maximum color change of the lunar eclipse is estimated to begin at 9:11 p.m. PT — it’s 12:11 a.m. ET for east coast residents either 4:11 a.m. UTC.
However, you can expect to see the eclipse start a few hours earlier, as the moon is estimated to reach 50 percent coverage around 7:59 p.m. PT. The reddish hue will continue to spread across the moon’s surface until it reaches its total eclipse.
What is the best way to view the lunar eclipse?
Just head outside! Unlike a solar eclipse, lunar eclipses are completely safe to view without protective glasses.
Note that lunar eclipses can only be seen from half the Earth at a time. This will be visible in North and South America, Europe and parts of Africa. So don’t miss your turn!
If I can’t go out to see, can I see the eclipse somewhere else?
Fortunately for everyone, NASA will livestream the eclipse on its website and YouTube channel beginning at 11 p.m. ET. The broadcast will also include a live Q&A session with NASA experts, answering viewers’ questions about the moon and space in real time. Anyone can submit a question using the #askNASA hashtag on Twitter.
You can tune in to the live stream countdown on YouTube.
On the lunar eclipse page, NASA also lists other regional live broadcasts, including those broadcast from around the world, such as in Rome, Italy, and Iturrietta, Spain. Check them out for an all-day global viewing event.