Looking up at the night sky with its pitch-black background of mysteries, human curiosity overflows with questions. The stars and their constellations, the meteor showers, the moon, and its phases. An ever-flowing of cycles and orbits that, in time, people have started to understand and complete this puzzle. Yet with every slight change, we are still in awe.
What’s in a name
The moon is the most obvious object in the night sky, and the changing face it shows us can be easily noticed every month. Right now, between May 25-27, another phenomenon changes the face of the moon.
It is, first of all, a full moon. It is even more special because it is the biggest most luminous full moon of 2021. The moon’s orbit around Earth is not perfectly round, it is more egg-shaped, and at a certain point, it gets really close to Earth. This we call a super moon.
Naming things like this differentiate it from every other cycle around the planet, and along with that, each full moon has its nickname. For every month and every rotation, the completed shape of our silver disc in the sky gets a name. This month it is a flower moon because in May flowers bloom in the northern hemisphere where spring still unfolds and makes way for summer.
Besides all that, Earth’s shadow will completely cover this full moon making it an even bigger event as it adds an eclipse. The eclipse itself does not completely cover the moon so it will only give it a brown-reddish shade, almost like blood. The convergence of all these makes it a super flower blood moon.
An eclipse to witness
A lunar eclipse is not as obvious as a solar eclipse, which tends to be more dramatic as the actual sunlight is being blocked.
Solar eclipses have a very narrow window of visibility because they can only be seen on a certain portion of the planet for a very short period of time. This is due mainly because of the distance of the sun from the Earth.
A lunar eclipse lasts longer and a bigger portion of the planet can witness it, as the shadow of the planet covered the surface of the moon. It is far easier to watch a lunar eclipse with the naked eye, as it would not damage the eye. Of course one can use a telescope or a pair of binoculars to have an even better view of it.
The night side
It can always be hit or miss with an eclipse. In this case, the moon will only be completely covered by the shadow of the Earth for 14 minutes. In theory, a total lunar eclipse can last for two hours. The best place to view it is in the Pacific area on the night side of the planet on the 26th of May 2021. This will include many islands of the Pacific, Hawaii, the southwest part of Alaska, New Zeeland, and Australia.
Eclipses of the Moon are not that infrequent so there is always a chance to catch the next one, whether it will be a full or partial eclipse. The allure of the moon has had a place in human contemplation for ages, and it still captures our attention. This other world, in a sense, is the closest one to ours.