Sky watchers in the eastern half of the U.S. are in for a treat this weekend thanks to a perfect storm of celestial events.
May s full Flower Moon will undergo a total lunar eclipse as it passes through the Earth's shadow overnight Sunday into Monday on 15 and 16 May. This will make the moon appear to turn red, hence its other colorful name - the blood moon. This full moon will be at its perigee that night, aka its closest point to Earth this month, which makes it a supermoon. We are in for a total lunar eclipse by the Super Flower Blood Moon.
The eastern half of the United States and all of South America will get the chance to watch every phase of the total lunar eclipse. It will be visible in much of Africa, Western Europe, Central and South America and most of North America, NASA says.
For optimal viewing, head to a spot that is away from bright lights in a dark environment. You should bring a telescope or a pair of binoculars to enhance the view and to get an eyeful of the moon's blood-red hue, although you should be able to enjoy the spectacle without any special equipment.
If you want to take photos, NASA recommends using a camera on a tripod with exposures of at least several seconds.
What if it rains?
If overcast skies or rain dampen your viewing plans, or you live outside the zone of totality to see the lunar eclipse or city lights spoil the effect, NASA will be live-streaming the eclipse from locations around the world.
The moon will enter the outer part of the Earth's shadow, the penumbra, at 9: 32 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, according to NASA's full moon guide. The moon will begin to dim, although the visual effect will be subtle at first.
But as the moon enters the darkest part of the earth's shadow, or the umbra, the part of the moon will start to appear very dark. NASA describes this as the moon looking like a bite is taken out of it. The peak of the Super Flower Blood Moon total lunar eclipse is expected to happen just after midnight early Monday morning, at 12: 11 a.m. Then the moon will slowly emerge from the Earth's full shadow between 12: 54 a.m. and 1: 55 a.m. Monday. The red color will fade as the moon exits the umbra, and now the heavenly body will look like a bite was taken from the opposite side as before.
The effect will become more subtle until the eclipse ends at 2: 50 a.m. Monday.