The first of two lunar eclipses for the year 2021 visible over North America will be on May 26. This will be the first of such visible over North America since January 2019.
Being associated with May’s full moon (the Flower Moon), and because the eclipse will occur when the Moon is near perigee (closest point in orbit around Earth), this is why the name “Super Flower” has often been floating around in news media headlines.
In reality however, you won’t notice a difference in size to the naked eye – it will look just as big as any full moon in the sky you’ve seen!
So… What is This an Eclipse of Again?
This happens when Earth goes directly between the Sun and the Moon. The Moon darkens due to passing through the Earth’s shadow. Technically, this is a Solar Eclipse happening on the Moon – a sky watcher on a hypothetical lunar base would be seeing the Earth block the Sun.
Why the reddish/orange glow? It’s Earth’s atmosphere that is refracting sunlight and projecting it onto the Lunar surface. One poetic way to say this would be that it’s the light from all of Earth’s sunrises and sunsets happening at the same time being projected on the Moon.
Isn’t this also called a “Blood Moon?” Sure. that is what lunar eclipses are often nicknamed in association with ancient lore, old civilization rituals, superstitions, and mythologies. If you want to call it as such, go right ahead! But people will often notice that during most lunar eclipses, the color is mostly a copper/orange rather than blood red. When eclipses aren’t as “deep,” then observers can note the wide display of colors from whiteish blue to orange to brick red. It looks redder the deeper the Moon travels through the central shadow, also called the Umbra, or Umbral Shadow.
This particular eclipse will see our Moon travel within the Umbra, but stay near the edges, so the actual totality will only last about 13-14 minutes.
Anyone on the night side of Earth when this eclipse happens will be able to spot it! This eclipse will be best seen from over the South Pacific, and most of Australia and New Zealand will see the entire event from start to finish (from entering partial phase through totality to exiting partial phase).
Will I See It From North America?
Yes and No… It depends on your location!
From North America, it will greatly favor the Western Half. With the exception of Hawaii and parts of Alaska, where the entire event is visible, from Western North America, the beginning of the eclipse through totality will be visible, and then the Moon will be seen to set while still exiting out of partial phase. The Rocky Mountain states could also have a decent showing of totality followed by the moon setting just after totality ends, but the midwestern states is where your viewing experience can widely vary depending on your location, and local moonset times! For example, parts of Texas will be south enough to see the moon appear to set during totality or just after, while cities and states further north in the central time zone may see the moon set before totality happens!
Unfortunately, Central and Eastern North America will NOT see a total eclipse. Central viewers will see a growing partial eclipse only for the moon to set before it reaches totality. Those further east may not even see a partial eclipse at all! The following chart and linked resources will help the reader figure out if they will be able to see it from their location.
|Event Marker||Time (UTC)||Los Angeles||Denver||Dallas||Kansas City||Chicago||New York City|
|Total Eclipse Begins||11:11||4:11||5:11||6:11||6:11*||6:11*||7:11*|
|Total Eclipse Ends||11:25||4:25||5:25||6:25^||6:25*||6:25*||7:25*|
|Partial Eclipse Ends||12:52||5:52||6:52*||7:52*||7:52*||7:52*||8:52*|
So… How Do I See It?
Remember that you don’t necessarily need special equipment, just your eyes! It will look great through binoculars or telescopes at low magnification.
All you need is a clear view of the southwestern horizon. If there are hills or tall trees obstructing, you might want to move to a better viewing spot!
“But That’s Too Early And It’s on a Wednesday… Can’t I Just Watch It Over the Weekend?”
No, you cannot reschedule an eclipse to always be convenient to your schedule!
“Okay… when is the next one then?”
There will be one visible over all of North America later this year on November 18, and one will need to stay up late on a Thursday night to check it out. However, it will actually be a very close partial eclipse, not a total!
There will also be two Total Lunar Eclipses visible from North America in the year 2022: one on May 15, 2022 and the other November 8, 2022. So don’t worry, for the next 18 months, another lunar eclipse is just a few months away if you miss out.
Will You Be Hosting Any Special Events For This Lunar Eclipse?
I will NOT be hosting any special live streams or viewing events this time around. But I have a GOOD reason why: I have been asked to help with setting up the telescopes, and aiding in tracking the moon for Griffith Observatory’s own live stream of the eclipse, which will be live on their YouTube channel.
For those who cannot watch the eclipse due to their location, weather permitting, you can always tune into Griffith’s live stream.
I will try to get my camera and telescope equipment set up on the side so I can still record and take my own pictures of this eclipse, so you can always stay tuned for that!