BOSTON (CBS) -- Are you ready for the "Super-Flower-Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse"?
Yes indeed, we have a cool sky happening next Wednesday, May 26, but you gotta be an early riser to catch some of the action.
OK, let's back track a minute. First off what's with the super long name?
This Moon is called a "supermoon" because it happens to coincide with the moon's closest approach to Earth in its orbit (this is also know as perigee). Typically, the moon is about 240,000 miles from Earth, but next week it will be about 222,000 miles from Earth, making it seem a bit larger than normal.
The full moon in the month of May is always known as the "Flower Moon", for obvious reasons. The Native Americans named all the full moons many years ago and in May they went with kind of an obvious choice, the Flower Moon. The full May Moon also is sometimes called the "Budding Moon," "Egg Laying Moon," "Frog Moon," "Leaf Budding Moon," "Planting Moon" or my personal favorite, the "Moon of Shedding Ponies."
A "Blood Moon" happens when a moon is in total lunar eclipse. When the moon is completely in the Earth's shadow, a small amount of light from the disk of the Earth falls on the surface of the moon. These light waves are stretched, giving them a reddish appearance. Unfortunately there will be no "Blood Moon" on the East Coast this go around because the moon will set here before being completely eclipsed. . . more in this below. The last total lunar eclipse (also the last blood moon) was in January of 2019. The next one after this year will be in May of 2022.
OK, let's get to the good stuff! A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun and happens to pass directly through the Earth's shadow. The eclipse on May 26 will begin at 4:47 a.m., this is when the moon touches the penumbra. The penumbra is a lighter part of the Earth's shadow and just starts to dim the moon a bit.
The partial phase of the eclipse begins at 5:44 a.m. when the moon touches the Earth's umbra, or the darkest section of shadow. But here's the bummer - the Moon is going to set at 5:15 a.m. here in Boston on May 26th. So we will never get to the true partial eclipse phase here.
The full eclipse begins at 7:11 a.m. and lasts until 7:25 a.m. But again, this will be long after the moon has set here on the East Coast.
If you want to see the entire eclipse, beginning to end, you would have to go to far western Alaska or Hawaii. Folks on the West Coast of the U.S. will see the majority of the eclipse including the entire total phase.
In just a few weeks you will hear about an annular solar eclipse. An annular is different from a total solar eclipse in that during an annular eclipse the moon covers the Sun's center, leaving a ring of fire around the edges of the Moon. Whereas during a solar eclipse, the Moon completely covers the sun. On June 10 we will be treated to a partial solar eclipse here in the Northeast just after sunrise. To see a complete annular solar eclipse on June 10 you would have to travel to either Canada (portions of Ontario, Quebec or Nunavut), Greenland, or Russia.
We will have much more on this event as we get closer.
Enjoy the show!
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