On May 26, the second of two supermoons in 2021 will take over the night sky as a “blood moon” due to a corresponding lunar eclipse.
According to NASA, a blood moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse, where the Earth lines up between the Moon and the Sun and hides the Moon from any sunlight.
“When this happens, the only light that reaches the Moon’s surface is from the edges of the Earth’s atmosphere,” the space agency explains. “The 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.”
May’s “Flower Moon,” named for the abundant flowers in the Northern Hemisphere during spring, is also a supermoon, which occurs when the Moon approaches Earth within 90 percent of perigree, causing the Moon to appear larger and brighter than normal.
That, combined with the total lunar eclipse and its resulting blood moon, breeds the “Super Flower Blood Moon,” which will peak for about 14 minutes on May 26, according to NASA.
The rare moon will be at least partially visible anywhere on the “night” side of the planet, which includes parts of Asia and Australia as well as most of the U.S. and South America. The best viewing will be in Hawaii, Alaska and western states, but the eclipse will still be visible on the East coast at dawn.
Lunar eclipses are safe to view with the naked eye, so there’s no need to take any visual precautions beforehand.
The Virtual Telescope Project will also have a live feed of the entire event, beginning at 3 a.m. PDT on May 26.
In case you missed it, Tom Cruise and Russia are now racing to film a movie in space.