The blood moon rises once again.
Sky watchers in the eastern half of the U.S. are in for a treat this weekend thanks to a perfect storm of celestial events.
May’s full “Flower Moon” will undergo a total lunar eclipse as it passes through the Earth’s shadow overnight Sunday into Monday on May 15 and 16. This will make the moon appear to turn red; hence its other colorful name — the “blood moon.”
What’s more, this full moon will be at its perigee that night, aka its closest point to Earth this month, which also makes it a “supermoon.”
In other words, we’re in for a “Super Flower Blood Moon” total lunar eclipse.
Where can I watch the lunar eclipse?
The eastern half of the United States and all of South America will get the opportunity to watch every phase of this total lunar eclipse. It will also be visible in much of Africa, Western Europe, Central and South America and most of North America, NASA says.
For optimal viewing, head to a spot that’s in a dark environment away from bright lights. And bring a telescope or a pair of binoculars to help enhance the view and get an eyeful of the moon’s blood-red hue — although you should be able to enjoy the spectacle without any special equipment, too.
If you want to take photos, NASA recommends using a camera on a tripod with exposures of at least several seconds.
What if it rains?
If overcast skies or rain dampen your viewing plans, or you live outside of the zone of totality to see the lunar eclipse (or city lights are spoiling the effect), then NASA will also be live-streaming the eclipse from locations around the world.
What time does the lunar eclipse start?
The moon will begin entering the outer part of the Earth’s shadow (aka the penumbra) at 9:32 p.m. ET. on Sunday, May 15, NASA’s full moon guide explains. The moon will begin to dim, although the visual effect will be subtle at first.
But as the moon enters the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow, or the umbra, then the part of the moon within the umbra will start to appear very dark. NASA describes this as the moon looking like “a bite is being taken out” of it. This will occur between 10:28 p.m. and 11:29 p.m. ET.
When is the best time to see the blood moon?
The peak of the Super Flower Blood Moon total lunar eclipse is expected to happen just after midnight early Monday morning, at 12:11 a.m. ET.
The moon will be in the Earth’s full shadow from 11:29 p.m. ET on Sunday until 12:54 a.m. ET on Monday, and it will turn a coppery-red.
Then the moon will slowly emerge from the Earth’s full shadow between 12:54 a.m. and 1:55 a.m. Monday. The red color will fade as the moon exits the umbra, and now the heavenly body will look like a “bite” was taken out of the opposite side as before.
The effect will become much more subtle, until the eclipse ends at 2:50 a.m. Monday.