Get ready for a rare and lovely cosmic phenomenon this week. Parts of the world are about to experience a total lunar eclipse, which turns the moon a rusty red. Thanks to livestreams, you can watch the May 26 celestial festivities from anywhere.
A lunar eclipse happens when the moon moves into the Earth’s shadow, which blocks the sun’s light. Unlike with a solar eclipse, you can look directly at the moon with the naked eye. This month’s total lunar eclipse has all sorts of names. We can sum it up as the “super flower blood moon.”
There are reasons for the exotic-sounding nicknames. Total lunar eclipses tend to give the moon a reddish hue. That’s the “blood” part. The Farmers Almanac ascribes various nicknames to full moons for each month. The May moon is typically called the “flower moon.” This moon will also be among the closest to Earth on its elliptical path, making it appear a little brighter and bigger than usual. That’s the “supermoon” bit.
As for just how red the moon will look, that will depend on what’s happening up above us. “The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the moon will appear,” said NASA in an eclipse Q&A this week.
Super blood wolf moon lunar eclipse dazzles in striking photos
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NASA says the eclipse will be visible across parts of the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and Eastern Asia. Residents of Hawaii and Alaska should have a great viewing opportunity, but much of the western US will be in position for the show.
Timeanddate.com’s viewing guide lets you dial in the time for your location and will tell you how much of the eclipse you’ll be able to see. For example, the total eclipse will be at its maximum for me in New Mexico at 5:18 a.m. local time on the morning of Wednesday, May 26. You can just go outside and look, but it’s fun to use a telescope or binoculars for a closer look.
If you just can’t wait, then check out NASA’s nifty “Dial-A-Moon” visualization that shows what the eclipse will look like from start to finish.
You don’t have to be in a prime zone to catch the action. The Virtual Telescope Project will provide a live feed starting at 3 a.m. PT on May 26.
Timeanddate.com is hosting its own global streaming event in partnership with astronomers in Australia, Hawaii, California and Arizona. The feed kicks off around 2:30 a.m. PT.
And if you plan to sleep through the eclipse (or if the clouds don’t cooperate), you can always catch the rerun later. For more on how eclipses work and the best ways to view them, check out our.
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