May not only arrives with warm temperatures and greening trees, but also with a flower moon that will offer an impressive astronomical spectacle.
Cosmos watchers will be able to spot a blood moon over the weekend when a lunar eclipse moves toward Earth’s orbit.
The penumbral eclipse, when the Moon plunges completely into Earth’s penumbral cone without touching the umbra, the inner part of Earth’s shadow, is scheduled to begin Sunday shortly after 9:30 p.m. ET. according to NASA. The penumbral eclipse results in only part of the moon being darkened.
The partial eclipse, when the moon appears to move into the umbra and part of the moon within the umbra will appear very dark, will occur just before 10:30 pm ET.
Residents of the eastern half of the US, including our area, will be able to observe each stage of the lunar eclipse. Totality will be visible over much of Africa, Western Europe, Central and South America, and most of North America, according to NASA.
Take the opportunity to see this eclipse, because you will have to wait months for the next total lunar eclipse, which will occur on November 8. After that, another total lunar eclipse won’t occur until March 13, 2025.
Here’s what to expect in our area:
WHAT TIME DOES IT START?
Totality will begin on Sunday just before 11:30 pm ET, when the entire moon is within Earth’s umbra and turns a coppery-red hue. Totality will end before 1 a.m. Monday, and the penumbral eclipse will end at 2:50 a.m.
In New Jersey, New York City and other parts of the eastern United States, subtle changes will be visible around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, when the outer portion of Earth’s shadow begins to slightly obscure part of the moon, in what is known as the penumbral phase, explains The Authority on Time.
The main phase of the lunar eclipse, known as totality, will begin around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday in the eastern United States. At that time, the moon will be very high in the sky and will be within Earth’s shadow. That’s when it will take on the reddish color.
The eclipse should reach its maximum phase between 00:10 and 00:15, when the moon will be full and completely covered by the shadow of our planet. The total eclipse will last from about 11:30 pm on Sunday to about 00:55 on Monday.
It will become a partial eclipse again after that and will end around 2:50 am
CAN IT BE CLEARLY APPRECIATED IN OUR REGION?
During the eclipse, cloud cover is expected from Dallas to Chicago, while scattered clouds will stretch from Atlanta to New York. NASA will offer a live broadcast of the total lunar eclipse.
A dark environment away from bright lights will create the best viewing conditions.
WHERE WILL IT LOOK BEST IN NY AND NJ?
The Authority on Time explains that the moon will be quite high in the sky throughout the event. This means that the event can be seen in both states from any open area with little light pollution.
During the maximum eclipse, the moon gets quite dark. The darker the sky, the better you can see.
In the New York City region, the nearly full moon is scheduled to begin rising in the east-southeast sky around 7:50 pm on Sunday, May 15. But when the eclipse begins later in the evening, the moon will be in the southern sky.
WHAT CAN WE SEE?
During a lunar eclipse, the color of the moon will change from white or yellow to rusty orange or reddish, hence the name “Blood Moon”.
The lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon align, and the moon passes into Earth’s shadow, according to NASA.
“Blood Moon” is the term to describe the part of the total lunar eclipse in which all of Earth’s sunrises and sunsets are projected onto the Moon’s surface as it passes through Earth’s shadow, which darkens it and gives it its crimson color.
Rayleigh scattering, the same phenomenon that gives the sky its blue color and makes sunsets red, is what causes the moon to turn red during an eclipse. Red light, which has longer wavelengths than blue light, is seen during a lunar eclipse because the only sunlight that reaches the moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere, according to NASA.
The more dust or clouds there are in Earth’s atmosphere at the time of the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear.
ARE SPECIAL GLASSES NEEDED TO OBSERVE THE ECLIPSE?
Contrary to solar eclipses, when the moon moves in front of the sun, it is totally safe to watch lunar eclipses without eye protection.