The “Super Flower Blood Moon” total lunar eclipse is scheduled for early Wednesday morning. Here’s what you need to know about the cosmic phenomenon.
What is a “Supermoon”?
In order for a moon to be a “supermoon,” a few things need to be in alignment. For starters, a full moon must occur at the same time the moon reaches perigee, which is its closest point in orbit to the Earth. When that happens, the moon appears larger and brighter than a regular full moon.
April’s full moon was a supermoon, and May’s supermoon will be the largest of the year.
Why is it called a “flower moon”?
Each month, the full moon has a different name, usually attributed to activities happening during that time like hunting, fishing or farming. The Flower Moon is attributed to the Algonquin tribes who called it the Flower Moon since the full moon came in late spring when flowers would often grow- think “April showers, bring May flowers.”
What causes a “blood moon”?
It’s called a blood moon because of the reddish hue it takes on during the eclipse,
During the eclipse, the moon will turn a reddish hue as it crosses through the Earth’s shadow. Because of this “blood” red color, the nickname “blood moon” was formed.
While some cultures viewed the red color as a bad omen, the color actually is linked the scattering of light through the Earth’s atmosphere during an eclipse.
What is a total lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth and Moon are in perfect alignment. When the Earth is centered between the sun and moon, it blocks any sunlight from reaching the moon and casts a shadow on it instead.
There are two parts of the Earth’s shadow that will be cast onto the moon: the umbra & penumbra. The umbra is the dark center of the shadow where the sun is completely. The penumbra is the outer parts of the shadow. When the moon passes through this, a partial eclipse is viewed.
The eclipse will start around 4:45 a.m. Wednesday, and peak around 6 a.m. In Central Ohio, we will only see a partial glimpse. States west of the Mississippi however, will see the full eclipse.
While lunar eclipses are rare, the event happens roughly twice a year.
Is it safe to watch a lunar eclipse?
Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are completely safe to view without any special equipment. And because of the size of the moon, you won’t need anything special like binoculars or a telescope to see it either.
The eclipse will only be partially visible in Central Ohio Wednesday morning.
According to NASA, the entire eclipse will last about five hours from 4:47 a.m. – 9:49 a.m. EDT(08:47:39 to 13:49:41 UTC).
DateAndTime.com breaks down the event as lasting in Columbus, Ohio lasting from 4:47 a.m. – 6:12 a.m. and hitting its maximum at 6:03 a.m., just before our 6:11 a.m. moonset.
You can also check out the Virtual Telescope Project online. There will be a live feed starting at 4 a.m. EDT on May 26.
One of the few things that could limit your viewing will be clouds ahead of rain. For the latest forecast, check out NBC4i.com/weather.