Fred Espenak, a retired NASA eclipse scientist, has been observing the night sky since he was eight, and plans again to look for the next lunar eclipse on Sunday (May 15).
After nearly six decades of staring at the sky, the Arizona resident said he still enjoys watching the shadow change as the moon turns red during a full lunar eclipse, and goes completely into Earth’s deep shadow. Read our complete guide to the Super Flower Blood Moon to prepare for the epic lunar event.
Webcast: How to watch the lunar eclipse of the Super Flower Blood Moon online
“You look at it 10 seconds before or 10 seconds later, you can’t tell the difference,” Espenak told Space.com about the lunar eclipse. “It’s a more gradual effect. Minute to minute you can see changes, but you can’t from second to second.”
The full-phase lunar eclipse will be visible from parts of the Americas, Antarctica, Europe, Africa and the eastern Pacific. This eclipse will show a moon that appears slightly large, on the edge of a supermoon state. If you want to photograph the moon, or want to get your gear ready for a total lunar eclipse, check out our best cameras for astrophotography and the best lenses for astrophotography. Read our guides on how to photograph a lunar eclipse, as well as how to photograph the moon with a camera, for some helpful tips for planning a lunar photo session.
Not everyone agrees that Venus’ full moon is a supermoon due to different definitions. The definition of Espenac is based on the first-ever supermoon, when astrologer Richard Knoll defined it in 1979 as a full moon coming within 90% of its closest point in its orbit to Earth.
“That’s the definition I’m using, because that was the first,” he said. “And as far as I’m concerned, this sets a precedent.” “But first of all, that 90% is purely arbitrary. There is no real justification as to why it should be 90%, or 89 or 91.”
But Espenac calculates the supermoons to also take into account changes in the moon’s orbit during each lunar cycle, including perigee (the nearest point) and apogee (the farthest point). NASA, which follows the strict 90% definition, says that the moon of Venus is not a super moon, but the full moon of June will be.
Spinach’s rationale is due to the lunar contrast. Perigee and apogee for everyone [moon] The orbit varies from one orbit to another. “This is because the Earth and the gravity of the Sun attract the Moon through its orbits.
“The limits of what you get as a giant moon vary from one orbit to another,” he added. “So, in order to determine whether or not a particular moon is a supermoon, you have to look at a particular orbit of the moon during that moon cycle.” (A lunar month is a lunar month, or the time elapsed between new moons.)
Ipsinac’s definition of a supermoon would put the following four moons in a row as supermoons: May 16, June 14, July 13, and August 3. 12. But he noted that calligraphy is not particularly uncommon. According to his website, 2023 will also see four consecutive supermoons, as well as 2024. Until 2025, 2025 will see three successive pyramids.
“Every 14 months or so, you get a series of moons that cross the 90% threshold. Very often, every 14 months or so, we get two or more of three to four,” he explained. He added that the larger full moon’s relative size is too small, however, even he couldn’t easily distinguish between just looking at the sky.
While the size of the supermoon will be accurate, the eclipse will become very interesting once it reaches its first parachute contact with the moon. A light eclipse, or a light lunar eclipse, offers subtle shading, Espenac said, but the darkness, Espenak said, “will look as if a cookie monster has taken a part” of the moon.
“One doesn’t really see color until you get close to college,” he said. He added that it is very easy to spot a blood moon within minutes of its totality, although that will depend on the lighting and weather conditions in your area.
“In dark places, it’s easier to detect colors and subtle features,” he said. “Sharp-eyed observers will notice that the darker part of the moon in the shadows, will be able to see some color of it in the last five to 10 minutes of the partial phases as we approach the total.”
However, a blood moon may not look completely red. “This ranges from bright orange, to fire truck red, to deep brown, to almost invisible dark gray,” Espinak said. “Most of the time, it’s orange to red, and that’s because of the colors caused by sunlight filtering through Earth’s atmosphere.”
While the timing depends on your location, TimeandDate.com says the partial eclipse phase of the lunar eclipse begins on May 15 at 10:28 PM EST (0228 GMT on May 16). It will reach the top of the red Blood Moon on May 16 at 12:11 AM ET (0411 GMT). The event ends at 1:55 AM EST (0555 GMT). Note that the partial eclipse will start about an hour before and end about an hour after the partial eclipse.
Editor’s note: If you caught a stunning lunar eclipse photo (or webcast of a lunar eclipse) and would like to share it with Space.com readers, send your photo(s), comments, name, and location to email@example.com.