How to See the Blood Moon Eclipse in the SF Bay Area on Sunday

A total lunar eclipse will occur on Sunday evening, and as a full moon plunges into Earth’s dark inner shadow, its surface will turn a dark, rusty red. For this reason, lunar eclipses are often called blood moons.

The view from the San Francisco Bay Area will be unusual because the May 15 eclipse begins at 6:32 p.m., before the moon rises in the east at 8:04 p.m., said Gerald McKeegan, assistant astronomer at Chabot Space & Science. Center in Oakland.

“So when the moon rises, it will already be partially in Earth’s shadow, exhibiting that familiar rusty red color,” McKeegan wrote in an email. “Maximum totality will occur at evening twilight at 8:29 p.m., when the moon is still very low in the east. The moon will begin to emerge from the shadow at 9:54 p.m., by which time the sky will be completely black.”

Since the eclipse will be in progress when the moon rises in the east, Bay Area residents will want to observe the celestial event from a location with a commanding view of the eastern horizon. McKeegan recommends viewing the show in the sky from an elevated ridgeline location and said ideal vantage points include Skyline Boulevard in the East Bay, Inspiration Point near Tilden Park in Berkeley, or near Highway 92 on the peninsula.

The view is also dependent on weather conditions, and the National Weather Service said beginning Wednesday, clouds were forecast for Sunday. However, this could change in the coming days.

“There’s still a lot of variability in how the current system tracks the Pacific Northwest,” Weather Services meteorologist David King said. “If it stays further north, we might see more clearing.”

King said fog can also obstruct the view of the moon along the coast.

Unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses can be viewed directly with the eyes, binoculars or a telescope safely, advises NASA.

Lunar eclipses are infrequent, but not rare, McKeegan said. The last total lunar eclipse occurred on May 26, 2021. There were two lunar eclipses last year, and this year a second will occur on the night of November 7-8.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon align and the moon passes into the earth’s shadow. McKeegan explained that the Earth’s shadow consists of two concentric circular shadows, the fainter outer penumbra and the darker, reddish inner shadow. When the moon passes completely into the shadow of the umbra, it turns a glowing red color and astronomers call it a total lunar eclipse.

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