Blood Moon Total Lunar Eclipse, On the night of May 15, 2022, and into the early hours of May 16, 2022, skywatchers will be treated to a spectacular phenomenon that occurs every 1.5 years or so.
Total lunar eclipses occur when the Moon and the Sun are on opposite sides of the Earth and the planet throws a complete shadow, or umbra, over its lone natural satellite. There may be multiple partial lunar eclipses each year, but complete eclipses are rare. Best of all, unlike the precautions necessary to see a total solar eclipse safely, watching a lunar eclipse with the naked eye is completely risk-free. Nonetheless, binoculars or a nice telescope may enhance the experience substantially.
A partial eclipse will begin across North America on May 15 at 9:28 p.m. Central Daylight Time (10:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 7:28 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time). Totality will begin at 10:29 p.m. CDT (11:29 p.m. EDT, 8:29 p.m. PDT) and terminate around midnight. On May 16, at 12:56 a.m. CDT, the partial phase will end around 2 1/2 hours after totality.
Because this was the time of year when spring flowers were in full bloom, early Native American tribes termed this full Moon the Flower Moon.
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Mitzi Adams and Alphonse Sterling, astronomers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, are very excited about the lunar eclipse. One of the most recent examples happened in January 2018, when the eclipse was low on the horizon and partially hidden by trees and buildings during totality.
The Moon as seen during the May 2022 total lunar eclipse. There are annotations on the contact times and eclipse data. The total lunar eclipse on May 16, 2022 (the night of May 15 in the Western Hemisphere) occurs near the perigee, magnifying the Moon by around 7%. The eclipse may be seen from much of the Western Hemisphere, including the United States’ Lower 48 states. The whole phase occurs towards moonset in Africa and Western Europe. NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio deserves credit.
The widespread COVID-19 outbreak then put a halt to eclipse viewing gatherings in 2020-2021.
“It’s wonderful to be able to organize astronomical club meetings in person again, especially since sharing a telescope eyepiece is safer,” Adams adds.