Midnight Total Lunar Eclipse May 15 – 16

On the night of May 15, the Moon enters Earth’s shadow, creating a total lunar eclipse, the first since May of 2021. The image below shows the changing appearance of the Moon as it travels into and out of Earth’s shadow, along with times at various stages.

The Moon moves right to left, passing through the penumbra and umbra, leaving in its wake an eclipse diagram with the times at various stages of the eclipse. NASA visualization by Ernie Wright.

The penumbra is the part of the Earth’s shadow where the Sun is only partially covered by Earth. The umbra, the deep central cone of Earth’s shadow, is where Sun is completely hidden. Though direct sunlight is blocked whilst in the umbra, Moon is illuminated by light refracted and filtered by Earth’s atmosphere, colored by all of the globe’s sunrises and sunsets.

The Moon’s appearance isn’t affected much by the penumbra but careful observers may note a change in the full Moon’s appearance. The real action begins when the Moon starts to disappear as it enters the umbra at about 10:28 p.m. EDT on the 15th. An hour later, entirely within the umbra, Moon is a copper, or red-orange color. Totality lasts for an hour and a half before the Moon begins to emerge from the central shadow. Throughout the eclipse, the Moon is found in the constellation Libra.

Shadows make an eclipse. This illustration shows how Earth casts a thin outer, and deep inner shadow that changes the Moon’s appearance during an eclipse. Credits: NASA / James Guilford

Although, for some, the midnight timing of the May total lunar eclipse is daunting, the good news is that North American watchers will be well-positioned to see the event in its entirety. Often, eclipses may be in progress as Moon rises or sets. For a visibility map, CLICK HERE.

Binoculars, small telescopes, or even your unaided eyes are all you need to enjoy viewing of this natural phenomenon. The one thing that may stand in our way is — you guessed it — the weather!

Stephens Memorial Observatory will not be open for this event.

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