Attention sky-watchers- our first total lunar eclipse of the year will occur on May 15th & 16th. With this eclipse, you’ll be able to see our silver moon turn a dark red as it aligns with the sun and the Earth for a total of 84 minutes. This eclipse will be visible from North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
You might be wondering, how do total lunar eclipses occur? A total lunar eclipse happens when the sun, the Earth, and the moon all align so that the moon is able to cross through the Earth’s shadow. However, this only happens occasionally, as it requires a full moon, and even then, the moon normally just misses the Earth’s shadow. This year, we’re lucky enough to experience not just one, but two total lunar eclipses -- the next one being in November. After this year, the next total lunar eclipse won’t happen until 2025.
This full moon, dubbed the Flower Moon due to all the blooming flowers this time of year, will begin the umbral portion (the darkest portion of the Earth’s shadow) at 10:27 p.m. EDT on May 15th and will reach its maximum eclipse at 12:11 a.m. EDT on May 16th. Totality ends at 12:53 a.m. EDT.
For those who would like to try to detect the more difficult penumbral portion (the lighter portion of the Earth’s shadow), the eclipse begins at 9:32 p.m. EDT.