This is a "telescopic visualization" of what NASA believes the 2021 May 26 Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon will look like in the sky.
(Image Source: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio)
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower
What some call a “Super-Moon” Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon will be visible to many people in the western part of North America, as well as Hawaii, early Wednesday morning, while the people in the central part of the continent can see the beginning of the Eclipse right before sunrise. However, Internet web-casts of the entire event will be available for those who can not see the event out-doors.
A Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon is the type of Eclipse that is safe to watch, outside directly, with the naked-eyes (one-power), binoculars, or a telescope.
The May 26 Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon will be visible just before sunrise for much of the western half of North America, southern Alaska, Mexico, and the southern part of South America. In Hawaii and much of Oceania, the Eclipse will be seen in the middle of the night. On the evening of May 26 (local time), the Eclipse can be seen in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Japan, the eastern portion of China, as well as the eastern portion of Russia.
A Partial Lunar Eclipse / Partial Eclipse of the Moon will be visible in the central portions of North America plus Puerto Rico, but not eastern portions of Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware or Ontario. New Jersey, New England, Quebec, and the Maritime Provinces of Canada will not see any of this Eclipse, directly.
For those viewing from the western part of North America, note that as the Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon enters the Totality Phase, when the Earth's shadow completely covers the Moon, the Moon will be low on the western horizon, getting ready to set. So, you want to make sure you have a good view of the western horizon, without obstructions such as buildings, trees, or hills, to be sure you can see the Eclipse Total Phase.
Of course, visibility of any “Super-Moon”, Full Moon, or Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon is dependent on local weather conditions. For areas where sky conditions are poor, as well as in areas where the Eclipse will not be visible at all, Internet web-casts of the event will be available (links to these web-casts are listed near the end of this blog-post).
Here are the major stages of this Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon –--
Wednesday Morning, 2021 May 26 -
[Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)]
(Note that a Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon is the only type of Eclipse where the times of Eclipse are the same world-wide, when using Coordinated Universal Time. Everyone on the dark or night side of Earth can view this Eclipse in the sky, weather-permitting.)
Monthly Lunar Perigee (Moon closest to Earth) - CLOSEST LUNAR PERIGEE OF 2021
(222,022.76207 statute miles / 357,311 kilometers ) --- May 25, 10:00 p.m. EDT / May 26, 2:00 UTC
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Begins --- 4:47:39 a.m. EDT / 8:47:39 UTC
Partial Lunar Eclipse Begins --- 5:44:59 a.m. EDT / 9:44:59 UTC
Total Lunar Eclipse Begins --- 7:11:27 a.m. EDT / 11:11 27 UTC
Primary Moon Phase - Full Moon --- 7:14 a.m. EDT / 11:14 UTC
Greatest Lunar Eclipse --- 7:18:42.7 a.m. EDT / 11:18:42.7 UTC
Total Lunar Eclipse Ends --- 7:25:58 a.m. EDT / 11:25:58 UTC
Partial Lunar Eclipse Ends --- 8:52:26 a.m. EDT / 12:52:26 UTC
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Ends --- 9:49:47 a.m. EDT / 13:49:47 UTC
The Moon's orbit is slightly tilted, so most months at Full Moon Phase, the Moon moves above or below the Earth's shadow, with no Eclipse. For the May 26 Eclipse, the Moon barely slips fully into the edge of Earth's Umbra shadow, as seen from Earth, so an edge of the Moon may not seem as dark as it would in an Eclipse where the Moon travels near the center of the Umbra. So, Eclipse Totality this time will be shorter than usual, in fact, only slightly longer than the shortest duration possible.
So, with this celestial event, we will actually be observing three events: the monthly Full Moon, a so-called “Super-Moon” also known as a Perigee Full Moon, and a Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon.
When closer to the Earth, the Moon often looks slightly larger (not more than 6-to-7 per-cent larger) and slightly brighter (not more than 12-to-14 per-cent brighter) than normal. Hence, when Lunar Perigee occurs close to the time of Full Moon, some refer to this Full Moon as a “Super-Moon.”
A so-called “Super-Moon” appears a little larger and brighter in the sky, than the Moon normally appears, because it is closer to the Earth than usual. In fact, the Full Moon of May will be the closest Full Moon to the Earth for the entire year!
This is also known as a Perigee Full Moon, since the this month's Full Moon occurs very close to the time of Perigee, the time point when the Moon approaches closest to Earth in its orbit. The Moon will reach Perigee, 222,022.76207 statute miles / 357,311 kilometers from the Earth, on May 25 at 10:00 p.m. EDT / May 26 at 2:00 UTC.
The actual Primary Full Moon Phase occurs just 9 hours and 14 minutes later: May 26, 7:14 a.m. EDT / 11:14 UTC. Due to the closeness of Lunar Perigee and the Full Moon, larger than normal tides are predicted along ocean coast-lines on May 26.
Lunar /Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon
A Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon occurs when the orbit of the Moon brings our natural satellite into the Earth's shadow (shadow caused by the Earth completely blocking light from the Sun). The Earth's shadow, extending into Outer Space from the dark or night side of Earth, is divided into two sections: the dim Penumbra shadow, which encircles the deeper Umbra shadow.
A Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon always occurs near the time, and including the time, of a Full Moon. Native Americans called the Full Moon of May the Flower Moon, but, more on that later.
When the Earth's dim shadow, known as the Penumbra, falls on the Moon, it is called a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse / Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. Because the Earth's shadow is dim in this case, this type of Eclipse is difficult to discern.
When the Earth's deep shadow, known as the Umbra, falls on only part of the Moon's surface, this is known as a Partial Lunar Eclipse / Partial Eclipse of the Moon. This is more easily visible, if you are in the right location and weather conditions are acceptable.
A Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon is when the Earth's deep shadow, or Umbra, completely envelops the Moon. Usually, a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon only occurs once every 2.5 years, approximately, as seen from someplace in the world; the last one happened on 2019 January 20 / 21. However, the next one will be seen in North America almost exactly a year from now on 2022 May 15 / 16.
Of course, "Totality" / Total Phase of the Eclipse is the most impressive part of the Eclipse, what most people wait to see. The Partial Phases of the Eclipse are when a piece of the Moon seems missing, as the Moon moves further into the Earth's main shadow known as the Umbra, or as the Eclipse is ending and the Moon is further moving out of the Earth's Umbra.
The Penumbral Phases of the Eclipse are difficult to see, as the Moon moves into or out of the Earth's secondary shadow or Penumbra. In this case, one would not see any chunks or bites taken out of the Moon's disk, as one would see when the Moon moves into the Umbra shadow during the Partial Phases. Instead, if your eyes are very good, you may notice a slight dimming of the light coming from the Moon, as the Moon moves further into the Penumbral shadow
Often, particularly during the middle of a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon, the Moon will not disappear from view but can be seen with an orange or reddish tint, what some call "blood red." If the Earth had no atmosphere, likely no sunlight would reach the Moon during a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon, and there would be no "Blood Moon;" the Moon would seem to completely disappear.
Although no direct sunlight reaches the Moon during a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon, the Earth's atmosphere refracts the sunlight around our planet allowing a portion of the sunlight to continue to be transmitted to the Moon. However, the refracted light reaching the Moon is primarily in the yellow, orange, and red portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (the Earth's atmosphere filters-out the violet, blue, and green colors), as with orange or red-tinted sunrises and sunsets (during such a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon, a person standing on the side of the Moon facing Earth could see all Earth sunrises and sunsets simultaneously, as they viewed the Earth in a Total Solar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Sun --- but, even on the Moon, a person would need to take strong precautions to ensure their eye-sight is not damaged by such a view). Hence, it is orange or red light that is reflected from the Moon back into your eyes during a Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon.
A so-called “Super-Moon” Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon is somewhat rare. Such an Eclipse has not occurred in nearly six years.
Full Moon of May
Near the mid-point of Spring, with flowers finally starting to bloom after the long cold Winter, the May Full Moon is primarily known as the Flower Moon to Native Americans.
Due to increasing fertility in mid-Spring, along with the end of hard frosts and warmer temperatures better attuned to the bearing of young and the raising of crops, in Earth's Northern Hemisphere the Full Moon of May is also known as the Mother's Moon and the Corn-Planting Moon or just Planting Moon. And, as Beltaine (the astronomical Cross-Quarter Day better known as May Day) was the time when farmers in Medieval Europe would move their cows to the better Summer pastures, it was also known as the Milk Moon.
As the Southern Hemisphere begins to enter their colder months, their names for the Full Moon of May include Hunter's Moon, Beaver Moon, and Frost Moon.
Internet Web-Casts Available for those not able to view the Eclipse directly ----
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles: Link >>> https://griffithobservatory.org/event/lunar-eclipse-online-broadcast-may-26-2021/
Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland CA: Link >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bhus6UBPcg
TimeandDate.com: Link >>> https://www.timeanddate.com/live/eclipse-lunar-2021-may-26
Astronz, Auckland, New Zealand: Link >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xyYfkhjedw
Internet Links to Additional Information ---
More on the May 26 Total Lunar Eclipse / Total Eclipse of the Moon: Link >>> https://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2021.html#luneclipse20210526
Maps of Areas of World & of United States Where This Eclipse will be visible: Link >>> https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4906
Lunar Eclipse / Eclipse of the Moon: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_eclipse
Eclipse: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eclipse
Earth's Moon: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon
Moon Illusion - Why the Moon looks larger, when it is low in the sky (NASA):
Link >>> https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2007/27jun_moonillusion
"Super-Moon": Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermoon
Primary Phase - Full Moon: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon
Full Moon Names ---
Related Blog-Posts ---
"Astro-Calendar: 2021 May / Total Lunar Eclipse May 26. Sat., 2021 May 1.
"Sunday Night: Only Total Lunar Eclipse of 2019 w/Web-Casts." Fri., 2019 Jan. 18.
"Total Lunar Eclipse Early Tue. Morning w/ Web-Cast." Mon., 2014 April 14.
Tuesday, 2021 May 25.
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Glenn A. Walsh, Informal Science Educator &
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Formerly Astronomical Observatory Coordinator & Planetarium Lecturer, original Buhl Planetarium & Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center), Pittsburgh's science & technology museum from 1939 to 1991.
Formerly Trustee, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Pittsburgh suburb of Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
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* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh: Link >>> http://www.planetarium.cc Buhl Observatory: Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/11/75th-anniversary-americas-5th-public.html
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago: Link >>> http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries: Link >>> http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc