How to watch this week’s rare ‘super blood moon’ total eclipse

Super blood moon seen during a total lunar eclipse in Mexico City.

Photo: ALFREDO ESTRELLA / AFP / Getty Images

The time is coming when you can see a full flower moon, which is what the full moon in May is called, which will be spectacular and will light up the night sky on Sunday night. This full moon will not only be a supermoon, but also a blood moon, thanks to a lunar eclipse.

The last total lunar eclipse occurred a year ago, on May 26, 2021. If the weather is clear, Millions of sky watchers in the Americas, Europe and Africa will be able to watch the total lunar eclipse on the night of May 15-16.

What is a blood moon?

According to NASA, a blood moon orcurre during a total lunar eclipsewhen the Earth is placed directly between the moon and the sun, obscuring the moon from sunlight.

During totality, the moon will have a faint reddish glow, as red wavelengths of sunlight filter through our planet’s atmosphere onto the moon’s surface. At different times during the eclipse, it might also appear to take on shades of orange, yellow, or brown.

“When this happens, the only light that reaches the surface of the moon is from the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere,” explains the space agency. “Air molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere scatter most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects off the moon’s surface with a red glow, making the moon appear red in the night sky.”

The full moon this month is also a Super moonmeaning it appears slightly larger and brighter than usual because it is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit, known as perigee.

It is also the flower moon, one of the names given to the May full moon due to the abundance of flowers associated with spring in the northern hemisphere. It has also been called the corn planting moon and the milk moon.

How to watch the total eclipse of the Super Flower Moon

Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special glasses to prevent eye damage, a lunar eclipse is safe to view with the naked eye, but binoculars or a telescope also enhance the viewing experience.

The visible part of the eclipse will begin around 10:30 p.m. ET on May 15, NASA says, when the moon enters Earth’s shadow. Totality, when the moon is completely covered by our planet’s shadow, follows around midnight and lasts about an hour and a half.

It will end around 2 am ET.

According to NASA, viewers in the eastern United States will see the eclipse begin with the moon well above the horizon, while those in the central part of the country will see it begin about an hour and a half after dark.

On the west coast, the moon will rise when totality is already underway, so the best views will be to the southeast.

Eclipse visibility map for the total lunar eclipse of May 15-16, 2022
Eclipse visibility map for the total lunar eclipse of May 15-16, 2022. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech

East Coast viewers will be able to watch the event high in the sky, but West Coast viewers should find an unobstructed spot to watch from. According to timeanddate, this will be the longest primetime total lunar eclipse on the West Coast this century.

Even if you don’t get an optimal view of the total lunar eclipse: NASA will broadcast the event live, showing views from around the world and answering viewers’ questions about the phenomenon.