Rare total lunar eclipse will excite skywatchers May 26

May 19, 2021, 2:15 PM
(AP Photo)...
(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Eclipses come and go and some of the most amazing sights in nature are surrounded by these rare events.

Get set for a total eclipse of the moon, which will occur in the morning hours of May 26.

Eclipses of the moon are rather rare and are totally safe to view with the naked eye, unlike the potential dangers of viewing a solar eclipse.

The sacred geometry of a lunar eclipse places the Earth between the moon and the sun, thus blocking the light that the sun sends to the moon.

In this particular eclipse of the moon, it is on its descending node and passes into the outer shadow of the earth, the penumbra, and then on to a short journey into the core of the Earth’s shadow, the umbra.

Here is an image of the geometry of a lunar eclipse.

Next Wednesday’s lunar eclipse will be a total lunar eclipse for us here in the western USA, as well as being one of the shortest in totality at only 14 minutes.

Here is a graphic of the visibility curve of this eclipse.

At its best, this is the view of the Earth from the moon, as the eclipse will favor most of the Pacific Ocean.

This total lunar eclipse is part of a large series of eclipses known as Saros cycle 121, which has 84 eclipses. The last one occurred May 16, 2003. This total lunar eclipse was best seen over South America.

The details of the Saros cycle of eclipses are listed here.

This is the last of the total lunar eclipses in Saros 121!

Here are the specific details on this lunar eclipse.

Now, on to the specific time for those of you in our Arizona audience!

The full moon of May 26 is known as the full flower super moon and the closest full moon of 2021.

Start looking at the moon around 2:30 a.m. Arizona time, as the moon will begin its march into the dark umbral shadow at 2:45 a.m.

The eclipse progresses as the moon continues to get darker and possibly a shade of orange and red.

Totality will begin at 4:11 a.m. Arizona time, with maximum eclipse at 4:19 a.m. This is the time to enjoy the 14 minutes of totality!

Totality will end around 4:26 a.m.

If you miss this event, the next total lunar eclipse here in Arizona will occur the night of May 15, 2022. We may only get to see the partial phases here.

Here is a great animation of this eclipse and the best ways to see it in other locations.

More advanced observers may want to use the information listed here.

Enjoy the short but amazing total lunar eclipse!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

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Rare total lunar eclipse will excite skywatchers May 26