DR. SKY BLOG

Here’s what you need to know ahead of Sunday’s total lunar eclipse

May 11, 2022, 2:00 PM
(Pexels Photo)...
(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

A celestial event that many have been looking forward to is just around the corner — a total lunar eclipse on Sunday night!

Here is your guide to the event and ways to help you plan to see it and to know what is going on during the big event.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth gets in the way of the sunlight which normally is sent to the moon. During these special alignments, there can be a partial lunar eclipse or when the moon moves into the central shadow of the Earth, a total lunar eclipse.

We here in North America get a good example of this starting Sunday night.

For much of the western USA, this eclipse will be an early evening event, while the eastern USA will see a late Sunday into an early Monday eclipse.

This is a special eclipse, as it occurs near the perigee or closest point the moon gets to Earth.

We call this eclipse the full flower/blood moon eclipse, or to some, a super moon.

There will be three additional super moons in 2022:

• June 14
• July 13
• Aug. 12

At that time, the moon will be within 222,000 miles and 225,000 miles from Earth.

The May full moon will be within 224,000 miles of Earth too.

Here is a detailed link on the details on this eclipse.

Closer to home, here are the details on how best to view the eclipse.

A lunar eclipse is totally safe to view and requires no filters, unlike a solar eclipse during the partial phases.

With a clear sky on Sunday night, the moon will rise at 7:12 p.m. Arizona time just to the right of true east moonrise, which is at 113 degrees on the compass.

Plan on finding a clear view of that part of the sky ahead of the eclipse!

Sunset that evening occurs in most of Arizona at 7:21 p.m. and civil twilight will last till 7:49 p.m., so the moon will still be in twilight sky during the start of the event.

On that day, we have 13 hours 53 minutes of daylight.

There are two distinct shadows that the moon enters during a lunar eclipse. The faint outer shadow is known as the penumbra. You will not notice this with the naked eye. The moon rises in the Earth’s penumbra, but the first detection of the eclipse will begin at 7:27 p.m.

At this time, you will notice a darkening of the left edge of the moon. This is the darker shadow of the Earth, the umbra!

Darkness will start to appear after the end of civil twilight as the umbral shadow “eats” up much of the moon.

The real show begins at 8:29 p.m. This is the start of totality.

For the next 84 minutes, the moon will remain in the umbra.

This is what you waited for and the best times to view and record the event with digital media.

Here are some ways to do that.

The best time to capture the eclipse is at 9:11 p.m. – this is the maximum umbral shadow on the moon.

The moon will look like this.

This is the so-called “blood moon,” and the color of the moon at the time of maximum eclipse is dependent on the color of the refracted light around the edge of the Earth, falling on to the lunar surface.

There is much to say about the history of lunar eclipses on the effect it had on people in history. Here is one example.

Finally, if you miss this eclipse we get another event on the morning of Nov. 8.

Here are the details of the eclipse for Arizona on that date.

This is a great eclipse to share with kids and others who are not able to stay up into the early hours of the morning and may of you might plan your own eclipse party and serve up some great “gastronomical” delights and drinks too!

Best of luck on your eclipse adventure!

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.

Podcasts are available here.

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Here’s what you need to know ahead of Sunday’s total lunar eclipse