Welcome to the 128th edition of 6 Storm Team Starwatch.
Sunday, May 15th 2022
Tonight a total lunar eclipse takes place (NASA). Total lunar eclipses only occur when the Moon is full. The May Full Moon is sometimes called the Flower Moon and during a total lunar eclipse the Moon turns a reddish color, giving it the name Blood Moon. As a result, some may call this a Flower Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse! All phases of this total lunar eclipse will be visible from the Eastern half of the United States.
What is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon is Full and the Sun, Moon and Earth all align. The Earth needs to be in between the Sun and the Moon for a total lunar eclipse to take place. Total lunar eclipses can last over an hour and don’t require any special glasses like solar eclipses do. Total lunar eclipses can also be seen by anyone on the nighttime side of Earth.
What are the phases of a total lunar eclipse?
During a total lunar eclipse the Moon will pass through two parts of Earth’s shadow. The first part is called the penumbra. This is the less dark shadow. The Moon will also pass through the umbra during a total lunar eclipse. This is the darker of the two shadows.
The Moon will first pass through the penumbra, then it will enter the umbra, then it will be completely inside the umbra (this is the start of the total lunar eclipse). The moment of greatest eclipse takes place when the Moon is halfway through its path across the umbra. For this total lunar eclipse this will happen at 12:12 a.m. EDT. Totality occurs when the Moon moves completely into the umbra. During totality the Moon turns a reddish orange color, hence the reason for the name Blood Moon.
Why does the Moon turn reddish orange during a total lunar eclipse?
“Rayleigh scattering” is the reason the Moon turns reddish during a total lunar eclipse. Light travels in waves and different colors have different wavelengths. Red light has a longer wavelength while blue light has a shorter wavelength. When light passes through our atmosphere blue light is scattered which is why the sky appears blue. Meanwhile, the longer red wavelengths pass through the Earth’s atmosphere.
During a total lunar eclipse, the Moon turns red because the only light that is making it to the Moon is what has already passed through Earth’s atmosphere, which is red light. If there is a lot of dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the time of the total lunar eclipse, the Moon will appear redder.
What time does NASA says the total lunar eclipse will start?
- 9:32 p.m. EDT the Moon will start entering the penumbra. If you notice anything, it will just be some dim shading of the Moon.
- 10:28 p.m. EDT the Moon will start to enter the umbra and more noticeable darkening will occur.
- 11:29 p.m. EDT the Moon will be fully inside the umbra (NASA). This is the start of the total lunar eclipse, also called totality.
- 12:12 a.m. EDT Monday the moment of greatest eclipse occurs.
- 12:54 a.m. EDT the Moon will start to exit the umbra and enter into the opposite side of the penumbra.
- 1:55 a.m. EDT the Moon is fully outside the umbra and begins to exit the penumbra.
How can I see the total lunar eclipse?
Simply go outside (somewhere away from bright lights) and look for the Moon. No special equipment is needed.
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This is a blog that will be posted every week with a list of events happening in the sky.