Those who have never witnessed the Moon turning red will get a chance when this year’s only total lunar eclipse unveils on Wednesday.
The Moon will be located on Earth’s opposite side from the Sun and fully illuminated at 7:13 a.m. ET on May 26.
A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker, taking on a rusty or blood-red color. The color is so striking that lunar eclipses are sometimes called Blood Moons.
It has been nearly two and a half years since the world witnessed such an event.
Compared to other Full Moons in 2021, the one in May will have the nearest approach to Earth, making it appear as the closest and largest Full Moon of the year. This is commonly referred to as a “supermoon.”
The total eclipse phase will be visible near moonset in the western United States and Canada, all of Mexico, most of Central America and Ecuador, western Peru, and southern Chile and Argentina. The eclipse can be seen in its entirety in eastern Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, including Hawaii.
Unlike a solar eclipse, special glasses are not needed to view a lunar eclipse, which can be seen with the naked eye in the open sky.
“Folks in Hawaii and the Aleutian Islands will get to see the entirety of this eclipse – it will be quite a show for them,” said Bill Cooke, Lead, NASA Meteoroid Environments Office.
The eclipse is set to begin on May 26 at 4:46 a.m. ET, with the Moon entering the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow at 5:45 a.m. Part of it will remain in the umbra until 8:53 a.m.
The ideal time to catch the lunar eclipse in its totality – the period when all of the Moon’s surface is blanketed by the Earth’s dark shadow – will be between 4:11 and 4:26 a.m., NASA says.
A total lunar eclipse with a supermoon is taking place for the first time in almost six years.
The next total lunar eclipse won’t happen over North America until May 2022, according to the U.S. space agency.
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