A total lunar eclipse wowed viewers around the world this week and in a time-lapse video it can be seen dramatically cutting off the light from the night sky to such an extent that the Milky Way suddenly appears.
The impressive video was captured by Gemini Observatory’s All-Sky Camera at its facility in Hilo, Hawaii, and shows the moment the eclipse darkens the sky and reveals the Milky Way.
The All-sky camera at @GeminiObs South had a pretty good view of the lunar eclipse last night! Note the very sharp drop in brightness between 12-17 seconds! #discovertogether #Eclipse #Lunar eclipse #Eclipse2022 @NOIRLabAstro @NOIRLabAstroES pic.twitter.com/raOZFa9RyT
— US National Office Gemini (@usngo) May 16, 2022
As reported by Futurism, the Milky Way galaxy is exposed for just three seconds in the time-lapse video above, but unfolded for about an hour in real time. The powerful telescope to the south of Gemini Observatory was able to pick up fine detail in the sky as the eclipse darkened the view dramatically.
The total lunar eclipse occurred during a full moon, which would normally make for an extra-bright night and therefore poor for viewing the Milky Way through natural light pollution. But as Earth cut off sunlight reflecting off the Moon, the sky darkened dramatically and revealed the galaxy to the camera.
The eclipse was the longest total lunar eclipse visible from the Americas since 1989 and also coincided with a “supermoon”, which occurs when the Moon is at its closest point to Earth.
When Earth’s shadow falls on the Moon’s surface, it can sometimes darken it or even turn red, which is why a total lunar eclipse of a full moon is also sometimes called a “blood moon.” This red appearance comes from the Moon passing through the Earth’s umbral shadow, as the only light that strikes it has passed through the planet’s atmosphere.
It wasn’t just the Gemini Observatory camera that picked out the Milky Way, another photographer posted a photo on Twitter of the Milky Way, the lunar eclipse and the aurora borealis in a single image.
Milky Way, Lunar Eclipse and Northern Lights in one shot! How can one night improve? !
11:39 PM CST, 05/15/2022@TamithaSkov @TweetAurora @CBCManitoba @ctvwinnipeg @TravelManitoba @TourismWestman pic.twitter.com/DGa8LEtXjd
— Aurora High Hopes with Justin Anderson (@AuroraJAnderson) May 17, 2022
Meanwhile, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti photographed the event from her position on the International Space Station.
A camera stationed at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile also captured a remarkable image of the Milky Way galaxy with the lunar eclipse visible in the frame as a large red orb.
The Purple Moon shines above the Milky Way in the left center of the image, while at the bottom of the image are the 4-meter Víctor M. Blanco Telescope (center) and the Curtis Schmidt Telescope (in left). NOIRLab explains that the eclipse appeared extraordinarily dark in the Southern Hemisphere following ash from the 2021 Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption.
For those who missed this lunar eclipse, another is scheduled for November 8, 2022 and will be visible in parts of the United States and Asia.