Don’t Do look up, SEA — we’re in store for a super flower blood moon lunar eclipse this Sun., May 15.
It’s still a little up in the air about what kind of visibility we’ll have that night, with an ~80% chance of rain on Sunday and clear skies for the next day. But you know what they say, wait 15 minutes…
Here’s what to expect.
What to know
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth passes directly between the sun and the moon, and the Earth’s shadow is cast upon the moon. In addition to it being the first total lunar eclipse of the year, this month’s full moon on Mon., May 16 will be a supermoon — a full moon that’s at the closest point to Earth in its orbit. It’s called a “flower moon” for its presence in flower-growing season.
What to look for
Look out for two features: color + size. As direct sunlight is blocked from the moon during the total lunar eclipse, reflected sunlight from the earth’s atmosphere gives the moon a rusty red color (like blood). Plus, because it’s closest to the earth around this same time as the eclipse, it will appear “super,” or a lot larger than usual.
When to look for it
The partial eclipse actually starts around 6:34 p.m., but the moon will still be below the horizon at that point (not to mention we’ll still have two hours of full daylight left). We’ll be able to finally see what all the hubbub’s about at 8:34 p.m. when the moon finally rises in the east. By 9:11 p.m., the moon will be completely red and the total eclipse will have started. The maximum eclipse (when the moon is closest to the center of its shadow) will be visible from 9:11-9:53 p.m.
Tips for the best view
While light pollution shouldn’t be much of a factor (the moon is pretty bright) — buildings may obstruct your view near the eastern horizon at the eclipse’s peak point. Try to get out of urban areas for the best views. And don’t forget to double check the weather forecast for cloudy conditions.
Feeling like a lunatic?
If the eclipse sparked your astronomical curiosity, check out the Seattle Astronomical Society, which hosts regular star parties and lectures.