During the early hours of May 26, 2021, West Coast skygazers will be treated to a spectacular lunar spectacle: A ‘Super Flower Blood Moon’ total lunar eclipse. While it is a mouthful, all it really means is that a super moon and a total lunar eclipse will occur simultaneously, which hasn’t happened in over two years.
A super moon is a celestial event that describes the moon at its closest proximity to the Earth on its orbit (or reaches “perigee”). As a result, the moon appears to be bigger and brighter than usual. A total lunar eclipse, on the other hand, happens when the glowing natural satellite moves through the Earth’s umbra (central shadow), making it appear dimmer with a coppery red tint.
The moniker is derived from the abundance of flowers during spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the red color caused by the refraction of light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere. And when you put it all together you have the ‘Super Flower Blood Moon’.
A total lunar eclipse has 7 phases as it moves through the Earth’s umbra and penumbra. It starts and ends with a penumbral eclipse which is when the moon moves into the Earth’s outer shadows. Then a partial eclipse happens when the moon moves into the umbra and out of the umbra. A total lunar eclipse happens when the moon is completely within the umbra and this is the phase that can be seen with the naked eye. A maximum eclipse is when the moon is right in the middle of the umbra.
This dazzling show will only be visible to those in the western parts of North America and only for around 15 minutes. Angelenos can look up on 26 May, from 1:47 a.m. with the maximum view occurring at 4:18 a.m., according to Time and Date. For anyone reading this in the rest of the world, you’ll still be able to a stunning super moon or stream the lunar eclipse online above.
Featured Image: Ganapathy Kuma via Unsplash