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.

Total lunar eclipse? Uh, not this time.

This map shows where the May 26, 2021 lunar eclipse is visible. Contours mark the edge of the region where the eclipse will be visible at the times when the Moon enters or leaves the umbra (the part of the Earth’s shadow where the Sun is completely hidden) and penumbra (the part where the Sun is only partially blocked). Credit: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio.

They say timing is everything and, with eclipses, that is certainly true. Unfortunately, timing will not be in our favor for viewing the Wednesday, May 26 total lunar eclipse. Earth’s Moon will be dipping very close to the horizon as morning twilight brightens hiding the most colorful portion of the event — totality — when Moon turns shades of copper and red. The subtle penumbral eclipse as Moon enters Earth’s outer shadow and will likely be even harder to see than usual. The partial phase of the eclipse begins as Moon enters the dark inner portion of the shadow cone and is easily spotted under other circumstances. Even the partial eclipse begins so late with Moon so close to the horizon that only a lucky few Ohioans will see any part of it.

Penumbral Eclipse beginsMay 26 at 4:47 a.m.
Partial Eclipse beginsMay 26 at 5:45 a.m.
Total Eclipse beginsMay 26 at 7:11 a.m.
Maximum EclipseMay 26 at 7:18 a.m.
Eclipse Timings — Eastern Daylight Time — Northeastern Ohio

The good news? Lunar eclipses can occur only at the time of a Full Moon and this event features a perigee Moon — our natural satellite at a particularly low portion of its orbit around Earth — appearing just a bit bigger and brighter than average. “Low”, in this case means 221,880 miles out. So, if skies allow, get out and enjoy the big, brilliant Full Moon tonight — it’s a natural wonder in its own right.

Visibility of the total phase in the contiguous U.S., at 11:11 UTC. Totality can be seen everywhere in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, along with Texas, Oklahoma, western Kansas, Hawaii and Alaska.

Still want to watch the eclipse, even though we can’t see it from here? Just do an online search for live eclipse viewing opportunities or tune in to your favorite morning TV news show; they’ll be broadcasting from the West Coast or Hawaii where the eclipse can be properly seen!

Don’t despair, dear moonwatcher! Come this November 19, in the wee hours of the morning, we will be in an excellent position to see a nearly total lunar eclipse from our own backyards! More on that at a later time!

January 20 – 21: Total Lunar Eclipse!

2007 Total Lunar Eclipse. Photo by James Guilford.
2007 Total Lunar Eclipse

Exciting News: A total lunar eclipse will take place January 20 – 21 and our area will be able to view the entire event, IF we are fortunate enough to have clear skies!

On the night of January 20, 2019 Earth’s shadow will cross the face of its Moon and viewers across North America will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. We, in Northeastern Ohio, are in luck this time as the entire eclipse will be visible to us given clear enough skies, of course.

As the penumbral phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:36 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually dimming, entering the lighter outer portion of Earth’s shadow. At 10:33 the partial eclipse begins and the disk of the Moon will show a dark, curved area expanding across its area. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will continue to darken until begin to glow a copper-red until at totality,11:41 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky as totality begins — the time the Moon is fully within the darkest portion of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra. Maximum eclipse takes place at 12:12 AM (Jan. 21) and totality ends at 12:43 AM. As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for more information from TimeAndDate.com.

Image: January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing - Credit: TimeAndDate.com
January 2019 Total Lunar Eclipse Timing – Credit: TimeAndDate.com

Please note: Because Stephens Memorial Observatory is located in a residential area and the peak portion of the eclipse will take place late at night, the observatory WILL NOT be open. Our big telescope is not necessary for your enjoyment of this wondrous natural phenomenon however, just go outside and look up! Binoculars or a small telescope may give a more detailed view but are not necessary. A lunar eclipse is completely safe to watch — it’s moonlight — so you need no special glasses or vision protection.

Best chance to see the January 31 lunar eclipse? On TV or online!

2007 Total Lunar Eclipse. Photo by James Guilford.
2007 Total Lunar Eclipse – Photo by James Guilford

A total lunar eclipse will take place in the pre-dawn hours of January 31 but interested viewers in Northeastern Ohio are not well-favored! Weather conditions predicted for Wednesday morning are poor (mostly cloudy, at best) and the timing of the eclipse event itself works against us; at best we would see only a portion of the partial phase before our Moon sets!

Our best bet for watching this total lunar eclipse will be to view it on television or via streaming video. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the celestial spectacle beginning at 5:30 a.m. EST. Weather permitting, the broadcast will feature views from the varying vantage points of telescopes at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California; Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles; and the University of Arizona’s Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory. You can access the live NASA broadcast via some cable television services, or online through NASA’s Moon webpages.

If skies do clear enough to see the Moon from our area, here’s a timetable for significant points in the upcoming eclipse as viewed from the city of Oberlin — the timing would be off only by a few seconds viewed from other areas of Northeastern Ohio.

Table giving Timing of January 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse - Credit: TimeAndDate.com
Table giving Timing of January 31, 2018 Total Lunar Eclipse – Credit: TimeAndDate.com

This eclipse event is getting special attention because it offers the rare coincidence of three lunar events: A “supermoon,” a “blue moon” and a total lunar eclipse at the same time. A “supermoon” occurs when the Moon is closest to Earth in its orbit (at or near perigee) and appears about 14 percent brighter than usual. As the second Full Moon of the month, this Moon is also commonly called a Blue Moon, though it will not be blue in appearance. The “Super Blue Moon” will pass through Earth’s shadow and take on a reddish copper to deep-red tint. The eerie colors of totality seen during lunar eclipses frightened the ancients but delight us!

The last total lunar eclipse occurred Sept. 27-28, 2015. The next total lunar eclipse visible across North America will occur January 21, 2019.

The January 31 eclipse is the third in a series of supermoons in December 2017 and January 2018. Watch the Supermoon Trilogy video.

Too cloudy to see the total lunar eclipse? Try a webcast!

If local conditions don’t allow viewing tonight’s total lunar eclipse or if you just can’t get out, try one of the several live webcasts. Seeing the eclipse would be much better “in person,” but watching via computer or TV is better than nothing!

NASA TV — both a webcast and a cable TV service the space agency’s coverage begins at 8:00 EDT through 11:30 PM. See it: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc or directly from Griffith Observatory at: http://livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV

Slooh, the remote telescope company, offers their own 9:00 PM webcast at: http://live.slooh.com/?utm_campaign=space&utm_medium=textlink&utm_source=launch which will also be carried by Space.com at: http://www.space.com/19195-night-sky-planets-asteroids-webcasts.html

The venerable “Sky & Telescope” magazine hosts a program beginning at 9:00 here: http://livestream.com/SkyandTelescope/Sept27eclipse

And the University of Arizona will stream their coverage live at: http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/css/eclipse/

September 27: Total Lunar Eclipse in “Prime Time”

2007 Total Lunar Eclipse. Photo by James Guilford.
2007 Total Lunar Eclipse

UPDATE: ECLIPSE WATCH EVENT CANCELED: Due to very poor sky conditions we feel must CANCEL tonight’s planned lunar eclipse watch and stargazing event. Forecasts call for occasional breaks in the overcast but their expected rarity and random nature would make for a poor viewing experience. Rain chances increase at about the time when the eclipse reaches maximum. Since the eclipse can be viewed without the use of a telescope, checking the skies for occasional breaks would be wise. Use the eclipse timing chart below to check the sky at critical points. Still want to see the eclipse, even if it’s via computer, tablet, or television? Check this item for resources!

SPECIAL PUBLIC EVENT: VIEWING THE TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE. This public observing event will take place at the Hiram Village playing field, across from the Municipal Building and behind the Hiram Historical Society. Hours are 8:30 to 12:30. There is no fee and no reservations are required. Attendees may come and go at will — see timing chart below. Click here for Google Maps. The Observatory will NOT be open for this event.

During the eclipse we plan to have one or more telescopes available for viewing of the Moon and, as the sky darkens, visible stars, planets, and other wonders of the night sky. This is an outdoor event so visitors should dress accordingly; flashlights will help find the way but please point downward so as not to spoil others’ night vision. Of course, inclement weather or overcast skies will cancel our viewing of the eclipse. Special thanks to Mayor Lou Bertrand and the Village of Hiram for allowing our nighttime use of the playing field.

On the night of September 27, 2015 Earth’s shadow will cross the face of its Moon and viewers across North America will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. We, in Northeastern Ohio, are in luck this time as the entire eclipse will be visible to us and in “prime time” — a marvelous and relatively rare situation! Click here for a printable event flyer.

As the partial phase of the eclipse begins, at 9:07 PM, viewers will see the Full Moon gradually covered by the dark portion of Earth’s shadow. As the Moon moves deeper into shadow it will begin to glow a copper-red until at totality,10:11 PM, Luna will hang colorfully in our star-sprinkled sky. As the eclipse ends, the process reverses until in the wee hours of Monday, the Full Moon will brightly shine again. Click here for a detailed, somewhat technical chart.

If you cannot join us for the public event, use the table below and watch from your back yard — you don’t even need a telescope! All you need is to be able to see the Moon and we’ll all hope for clear skies!

Image: Table showing eclipse timing for September 27, 2015.

Please note that, on the Web and in the media, there may be confusion over the time and date of the eclipse event. The table above is correct for our Northern Ohio location.

September 19: International Observe the Moon Night

Photo: Waxing Gibbout Moon. Photo by James Guiilford.
The Waxing Gibbous Moon – Night Before First Quarter

UPDATE: It was a confusing night with the sky quickly changing from clear to overcast, overcast to clear, and so on! In all 14 folks took a chance and came out. Trees and clouds blocked our view of the Moon on, of all things, International Observe the Moon Night! Patient visitors did receive views of the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Perseus Double Cluster. The last to leave observed the path of the Milky Way’s star stream overhead and the dark areas created by interstellar dust clouds!

Stephens Memorial Observatory of Hiram College will be open to the public on Saturday, September 19, from 9:00 to 11:00 PM as a local venue of International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN).

The InOMN is an annual, world-wide public engagement program that encourages observation, appreciation, and understanding of Earth’s Moon. Everyone on Earth is invited to join the celebration by attending an InOMN event — and uniting on one day each year to look at and learn about the Moon together. This year’s InOMN takes place just one week ahead of the much-anticipated total lunar eclipse taking place the night of Sunday, September 27.

No reservations are required and there is no admission fee for observatory public nights. Overcast skies or inclement weather at the starting time cancel the event and, in that case, the observatory will not open. For updates and more information, see the observatory’s Web site: StephensObservatory.org or “@StephensObs” on Twitter.

The Observatory is located on Wakefield Road (Rt. 82) less than a quarter of a mile west of Route 700 in Hiram. There is no parking at the Observatory. Visitors may park on permissible side streets near the Post Office, a short distance east of the observatory.

Click here for a handy map showing the Moon as it will appear during InOMN with some interesting features highlighted!

Saturday’s eclipse to offer not much of a show for us

Photo: Partial Phase of Oct. 8, 2014 Lunar Eclipse. Photo by James Guilford.
Partial Phase Lunar Eclipse – Oct. 8, 2014

Saturday morning will afford most of North America the opportunity to see a beautiful, if brief, total lunar eclipse; that opportunity does not extend to those of us located in Northeastern Ohio. Our missed opportunity is a matter of location and timing: the partial phase of the eclipse will begin for us at 6:16 AM EDT and the eclipsing Moon will set at 7:10 AM. Sunrise is at 7:05 AM. At best, we will see a shadowy edge missing from the Full Moon as it sinks below the horizon and is obliterated by dawn’s light. We will miss the dramatic “totality” phase entirely.

Eclipse watchers farther west of us will witness the shortest lunar eclipse of the century with totality lasting only about five minutes.

This eclipse marks the third in a series of four lunar eclipses in a row, known as a “tetrad.” The first in the series occurred on April 15, 2014, the second in September of 2014, and the final will be Sept. 27, 2015.

During an eclipse, the moon often looks coppery or reddish because sunlight has passed through Earth’s atmosphere, which filters out most of its blue light. This eerie, harmless effect was understandably frightening to people before its cause was understood.

For a total lunar eclipse to happen, the moon must be Full, which means it is directly opposite the Sun, with Earth in between. The Moon moves into the shadow cast into space by the Sun shining on Earth. An eclipse does not occur every month because sometimes the Moon is above the shadow and sometimes below.

Take heart, Ohioans, for we will have a grand eclipse viewing opportunity later this year! The September 27 total lunar eclipse will take place before midnight and we will be able to witness the entire event, if the skies cooperate!

The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will provide a live feed from their telescope starting at 6 AM EDT on April 4:


A world map of eclipse visibility can be found at:


Note: This story includes some material from a NASA news release.