(CBS) A spectacular full moon graced the night sky on Sunday night. It marked not only a supermoon, but also a blood moon — thanks to a lunar eclipse.
The last total lunar eclipse occurred a year ago, on May 26, 2021. Millions of skywatchers in the Americas, Europe and Africa were able to view the event.
According to NASA, a blood moon occurs 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 red wavelengths of sunlight filter through our planet’s atmosphere onto the moon’s surface. At different moments during the eclipse, it could also appear to take on shades of orange, yellow or brown.
“When this happens, the only light that reaches the moon’s surface is from the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere,” the space agency explains. “The air molecules from Earth’s atmosphere scatter out most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects onto 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 its closest point to Earth in its orbit, known as the perigee.
It’s also the flower moon, one of the names given to May’s 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.
Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special glasses in order 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.