A total ‘blood moon’ eclipse will rise over the United States this weekend

The moon will plunge into darkness this weekend to create a celestial spectacle not seen in skies over the entire contiguous United States since the turn of the decade.

As the sun sets over North America on Sunday evening, the sun, Earth and moon will begin to align to create a total lunar eclipse.

People may have to stay up later than usual for a chance to see Sunday evening’s eclipse as it unfolds throughout the first half of the night. However, losing some sleep will be worth it, as the eclipse could be the main astronomical event of 2022.

This weekend’s event will be the first total lunar eclipse visible from the entire contiguous United States since January 21, 2019. There was a total lunar eclipse visible from the country on May 26, 2021, but it is not could only be seen from the western United States, Alaska and Hawaii.

There was also an impressive partial lunar eclipse over the Americas on November 19, 2021, when 97% of the moon darkened, but ultimately came close to being considered a total eclipse.

A total lunar eclipse is sometimes called a “blood moon” because the moon often appears to turn dark red at the height of the eclipse.

The strange color change is not due to a transformation of the moon during astronomical alignment, but rather a change in the light reflected from the moon.

“During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns red because the only sunlight reaching the moon passes through Earth’s atmosphere,” NASA explained.

“The more dust or clouds in Earth’s atmosphere during the eclipse, the redder the Moon will appear,” NASA added. This dust can come from a variety of sources, such as forest fires or volcanic eruptions.

The entire eclipse will last over five hours, beginning at 9:32 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 15 and ending at 2:50 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 16.

However, the total phase of the eclipse, when the moon changes color, will only last about an hour and a half, beginning at 11:29 p.m. EDT and ending at 12:53 a.m. EDT. The mid-eclipse will be the best time to view the moon and will occur at 12:11 a.m. EDT.

The eclipse will begin before the moon rises over the west coast, but luckily the moon will rise above the horizon just in time for locals to see it turn red.

People in most of Canada, Central America, South America, Western Europe and West Africa will also be able to see the lunar eclipse.

No special equipment is needed to witness the eclipse, but cloud-free conditions are a must.

Clouds will be a concern for spectators in most of the eastern United States and in Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The exception will be the southeastern United States where cloudless conditions should allow for great views of the blood moon.

Chances of seeing the eclipse are much higher over the central and western United States with partly to mostly clear conditions in the Sunday evening forecast. Similar prospects are predicted for the Canadian Prairies.

Meanwhile, clouds could spoil the show in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, including the Portland, Oregon and Seattle metropolitan areas, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia.

Unlike a total solar eclipse when you need perfect weather for the fleeting few minutes when the moon completely blocks out the sun, the total phase of a lunar eclipse lasts over an hour when the moon slowly crosses the Earth’s shadow.

That means just one break in the clouds is enough to catch a glimpse of Sunday night’s event.

The May full moon is often dubbed the “flower moon” due to the abundance of flowers throughout the month, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Some people combine nicknames, calling this month’s full moon the “flower blood moon.”

This weekend’s highly anticipated event will be the first of two occasions to see a total lunar eclipse from the United States this year.

Another blood moon is expected to rise again over most of North America on November 8, 2022. However, the moon will set over the eastern United States and Atlantic Canada just as the full phase of the eclipse begins. This means people from Miami to Manhattan will only see a brief portion of the booster eclipse.

After November, another total lunar eclipse will not be visible anywhere in the world until March 13, 2025.

While June, July and August will not feature lunar eclipses, each month will offer the opportunity to see a supermoon.

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