BOSTON (CBS) – Are you ready for the Super-Flower-Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse?
Yes, we have cool skies next Wednesday May 26th, but you have to be an early bird to catch some of the action.
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OK, let’s retrace a minute. What about the super long name?
This moon is called the “supermoon” because it happens to coincide with the closest approach of the moon to the earth in its orbit (this is also known as perigee). Usually the moon is about 240,000 miles from Earth, but next week it will be about 222,000 miles from Earth, making it appear a little larger than normal.
The full moon in May is always referred to as the “flower moon” for obvious reasons. Native Americans called all of them full moons many years ago, and in May they settled on an obvious choice, the flower moon. The full May moon is sometimes referred to as the “bud moon”, “egg-laying moon”, “frog moon”, “leaf bud moon”, “plant moon” or my personal favorite, “moon of the pony pony”.
A “blood moon” occurs when a moon is in a total lunar eclipse. When the moon is completely in the shadow of the earth, a small amount of light falls from the earth’s disk onto the surface of the moon. These light waves are stretched, which gives them a reddish appearance. Unfortunately, there won’t be a “blood moon” on the east coast, as the moon sets here before it is completely darkened. . . more on this below. The last total lunar eclipse (also the last blood moon) was in January 2019. The next after this year will be in May 2022.
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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 right through the earth’s shadow. The solar eclipse on May 26th begins at 4:47 in the morning. Then the moon touches the penumbra. The penumbra is a lighter part of the earth’s shadow and is just beginning to darken the moon a little.
The partial phase of the solar 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 set to set here in Boston at 5:15 a.m. on May 26th. So we will never get to the true partial solar eclipse here.
The full solar eclipse begins at 7:11 a.m. and lasts until 7:25 a.m. But even this will take a long time until the moon has set here on the east coast.
If you want to see the entire eclipse from start to finish, you have to go to Western Alaska or Hawaii. People on the west coast of the United States will experience most of the solar eclipse, including the entire phase.
In just a few weeks, you will hear about an annular solar eclipse. A ring differs from a total solar eclipse in that during an annular solar eclipse, the moon covers the center of the sun and leaves a ring of fire around the edges of the moon. During a solar eclipse, the moon completely covers the sun. On June 10th, here in the northeast, shortly after sunrise, we will be exposed to a partial solar eclipse. To see a full annular solar eclipse on June 10th, you would have to travel to either Canada (parts of Ontario, Quebec, or Nunavut), Greenland, or Russia.
We’ll learn a lot more about this event as we get closer.
Enjoy the show!
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