NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A special lunar event is quickly approaching Sunday night. The upcoming full moon will not only look larger-than-usual, but also appear red as a total eclipse takes place.
The “supermoon” on Sunday, May 15 will turn red as it passes through Earth’s shadow. The total eclipse begins at 10:29 PM and ends at 11:53 PM. The maximum eclipse, when the moon appears the darkest, will be at 11:11 PM.
What is a lunar eclipse?
Our Moon doesn’t shine, it reflects light. Just like daytime here on Earth, sunlight illuminates the Moon.
During a lunar eclipse, Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, blocking the sunlight falling on the Moon. The only remaining sunlight reaching the Moon at that point comes from around the edges of the Earth.
While the Earth’s atmosphere scatters away blue light from the Sun, red light passes through Earth’s atmosphere and refracts toward the moon. This causes the moon to have a reddish glow during an eclipse.
If you were on the surface of the Moon when the eclipse takes place, you would see all Earth’s sunrises and sunsets at once.
How can I see the eclipse?
You don’t need any special equipment to observe a lunar eclipse, although binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view and the red color.
A dark environment away from bright lights makes for the best viewing conditions.
Why is it called a “Super Flower Blood Moon?”
First, a moon has to be full for a lunar eclipse to take place. This full moon also happens to be one of a few “supermoons” that will appear in 2022.
Supermoon: A “supermoon” looks larger-than-usual because it’s slightly closer to Earth. The term “supermoon” is actually just a nickname for what astronomers call a perigean full moon – a moon that is full and at its closest point in its orbit around Earth.
Flower Moon: Early Native Americans did not track the full moons with a calendar, but rather by the time of the year, based on their observations. Each full moon has it’s own name. The full moon of May is often called the “flower moon” because it rises as flowers bloom in North America in the spring.
Blood Moon: The name “blood moon” is used during a lunar eclipse because of the Moon’s red glow. Occasionally, “blood moon” is also used for a Moon that appears reddish because of dust, smoke or haze in the sky.
When is the next total lunar eclipse?
If you miss Sunday’s total lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait until the fall for the next chance to see one.
The next total lunar eclipse visible from the U.S. will take place on November 8, 2022.