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Rare spectacular blood moon total lunar eclipse seen this weekend

By Luke Weir & Lorna Hughes

The early hours of Monday will see the spectacular sight of a 'blood moon' eclipse. The May 16 Flower Moon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, when the Earth is positioned precisely between the sun and the Moon so all three are in a straight line.

A total lunar eclipse takes place when the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth, Cornwall Live reports. The red colour is because the only light reaching the Moon's surface is from the edges of the Earth's atmosphere.

According to NASA, air molecules from Earth's atmosphere scatter out most of the blue light. The remaining light reflects onto the Moon's surface with a red glow, making the Moon appear red in the night sky.

The Royal Observatory Greenwich said: "People sometimes refer to a lunar eclipse as a ‘blood moon’ because of the way the Moon can turn a deep coppery red. This colour is due to sunlight filtering through Earth's atmosphere; how red it actually turns depends on the state of dust in the Earth's atmosphere."

You have to go all the way back to January 2019 for the last total lunar eclipse in the UK. The first lunar eclipse of 2022 will be visible from countries as far-ranging as South America to North America, and to parts of Europe and Africa.

This special sight will be followed by two super moons on June 14 and July 13. They are, respectively, the Strawberry Moon (linked to harvesting of the fruit in North America) and the Buck Moon (named for when male deer start to regrow their antlers).

Here is all you need to know about the May 16 blood moon total eclipse:

What is a lunar eclipse?

A total lunar eclipse is when the Earth comes between the sun and the moon, in turn blocking the sun's direct rays from lighting up the moon. It is often called a blood moon due to the dark red colour it appears to be.

According to the Royal Observatory, this happens because “it is illuminated by light that has passed through the Earth’s atmosphere and has been bent back towards the moon by refraction”. Total eclipses only occur when there is a full moon and the moon is at (or very near) a lunar node - when the sun, the moon and the Earth are aligned in a straight line.

Roughly, a total lunar eclipse happens at least twice every three years.

When is the lunar eclipse?

The eclipse takes place in several stages, with the first being the penumbral phase. This begins at 2:32am on Monday 16 May - so better set your alarms!

However, this stage only creates a more subtle darkening effect. The second stage, the umbral eclipse, is more dramatic as this is when you can see the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow passing across the lunar surface.

This begins at 3:27am and eventually culminates in a fully eclipsed moon at 4:29am. In London, the Royal Observatory says that the optimal viewing time will be between 4:29 and 5:06. Although the moon will set soon after this, the eclipse will continue until 7:50am.

How can you watch the blood moon eclipse?

To get the best view, you might want to consider using a telescope or binoculars. However, if you can’t get your hands on one and your local area doesn’t provide the greatest view, then NASA will also broadcast it live on YouTube, allowing you to watch it from the comfort of your own home.

Where can you expect to see it?

Away from the UK, many parts of the globe will catch a glimpse of this remarkable sight in the sky. Those in Central and Southern America, and the eastern regions of North America, will be able to watch the spectacle in its entirety.

Other parts of Europe, as well as African locations, will also be blessed by the blood moon’s presence. However, it will not be visible from Australia.

For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.

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Dive Deeper:
Total Lunar Eclipse: Here's time, place, link to watch the blood moon on 16 May
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align so that the Moon passes into Earth’s shadow
Total Lunar eclipse 2022 on 15, 16 May. Which cities will see blood moon. Read here
According to experts the duration of the total phase will be 1 hour 25 min and that of partial phase…
Total Lunar Eclipse Blood Moon: Will year's first lunar eclipse be visible from India? Read here
The first total lunar eclipse will begin at 10.27pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Sunday, which according to Indian Standard Time…
Blood Moon total lunar eclipse 2022: how and where to watch
A total lunar eclipse will be visible from the UK - here is when and where to be to see…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Moon goes blood red this weekend: 'Eclipse for the Americas'
A total lunar eclipse will grace the night skies this weekend, providing longer than usual thrills for stargazers across North…
Lunar eclipse: Moon to go blood-red on May 16. Check timings, other details
Lunar eclipse 2022: The reason why Moon turns red during a lunar eclipse is because of Rayleigh's scattering.The lunar eclipse…
Get all your news in one place