The next celestial event to light up the sky across has a name befitting its red-tinted hue: The Super Flower Blood Moon. No, that mouthful of a name isn’t a purely scientific term, but as far as full moons go, this month’s is definitely worth the space on your calendar. It’s the product of a lunar eclipse, as the moon inches closer to Earth than it will all month, with fragments of sunlight drenching the lunar surface with a deep, reddish sheen.
Here’s what you need to know about the Super Flower Blood Moon, which definitely isn’t an omen of the impending End of Days, even though it sounds like it.
It’s a total lunar eclipse
It’s an eclipse that you can stare at, which is a plus, as far as eclipses are concerned. On May 26, a total lunar eclipse will ensue when the moon moves inside the Earth’s shadow, putting the Sun, Earth, and moon in perfect alignment. This brief moment of symmetry obscures the moon for onlookers on the ground, but this particular eclipse is different, as it coincides with a Super Moon — when the moon reaches its closest proximity to Earth during its orbit. This particular moon, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, will be the biggest moon of the year for anyone gazing upward without the aid of binoculars or a telescope.
Given all the factors at play, the Super Flower Blood Moon is a perfect celestial storm. NASA explains how the moon gets enveloped in a shade of red during the process:
The red colour comes from sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere – a ring of light created by all the sunrises and sunsets happening around our planet at that time Because of the reddish colour, a lunar eclipse is often called a “blood moon.”
The term “flower” doesn’t come from nowhere, either: May’s full moon is traditionally called the Flower Moon, stemming (pun alert) from its association with the bloom of spring. In any case, this moon will be large — upwards of seven per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than usual, meaning it will look about the same as April’s Pink Super Moon.
How to see the Super Flower Blood Moon
Luckily, a Total Lunar Eclipse is pretty unmissable, and although certain areas will have a better vantage point, this phenomenon is visible at night pretty much anywhere, albeit to varying degrees. NASA explains where the eclipse will have the most impact:
The best viewing for this eclipse is in the Pacific Rim – that’s the western parts of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and Eastern Asia. For the U.S., the best viewing will be in Hawaii, Alaska, and the western states.
Note: Australians will be able to watch the eclipse starting at 6:45 pm until 11:49 pm AEST on May 26.
As always, check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly before venturing out into the elements, or just look out your window. And if you’d like some tips on how to photograph this bad boy, check out our piece on that here.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.