A RARE total lunar eclipse will turn the "super" Moon crimson red this weekend.
This Super Blood Moon is a rare sight that won't occur in exactly the same way for years.
It's set to occur on Sunday, May 15 through to Monday, May 16 – and it's visible in the UK and the US.
We've got all the details on when you need to look up.
Why is this Total Lunar Eclipse important?
So what makes this space event so special?
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For a start, this is a total lunar eclipse – not a partial.
These are already quite rare, so it's worth looking up anyway.
But the May 2022 moon is also a Super Moon, meaning it's particularly close and will look large in the sky.
The moon is just 225,335 miles from Earth on May 16, 2022.
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There's another total lunar eclipse on November 8, 2022, but it's not classed as a Super Moon – it's around 243,522 miles away.
There are no total lunar eclipses in 2023 or 2024, but there will be in 2025.
Sadly, there won't be a Moon close enough to qualify as a super moon during a total lunar eclipse for years.
What is a lunar eclipse and when is the next one?
The Earth is constantly rotating around the Sun, and the Moon is constantly rotating around the Earth.
Sometimes all three can align, placing the Earth directly between the Sun and the Moon in a straight line.
It means the Moon is in the darkest part of Earth's shadow – the "umbra".
And due to convenient sizing and distancing of all three objects, no sunlight can directly reach the Moon.
However, some sunlight is refracted by Earth's atmosphere, making the Moon appear reddish – hence the name "Blood Moon".
Lunar eclipses typically last just a few hours, and can be viewed from anywhere on the night side of Earth.
Because they're typically quite dim, it's also possible to view lunar eclipses without eye protection, which isn't the case with a solar eclipse.
There are three different types of lunar eclipse:
- Total lunar eclipse – This is where the Moon turns deep red, receiving only light that's passed through Earth's atmosphere.
- Penumbral lunar eclipse – This is when the Sun, Moon and Earth fail to form a perfect straight line, so the Moon only travels through the outer part of Earth's shadow. This means the Moon's surface is partly darkened.
- Partial lunar eclipse – This is when part of the Moon travels through Earth's full shadow, which results in part of the Moon being darkened.
The next total lunar eclipse is on May 16, 2022, but it will begin on Sunday, May 15 for Americans.
Can you see the May 16, 2022 lunar eclipse in the UK and US?
The total lunar eclipse will be visible in the UK and US.
In fact, it will appear over most of North America, South America, and parts of Europe and Africa.
Americans on the East Coast will have the best chance to view the eclipse, but the totality will be visible across much of the USA.
Nasa has created a visibility map that you can see at the bottom of this article.
What time is the May 16, 2022 lunar eclipse?
In the UK, the Moon will begin entering the Earth's shadow at around 2.30am on May 16.
And the total eclipse will occur at about 4.30am.
It will finally come to an end at 7.50am – but the eclipse will have stopped being visible about two-and-a-half hours before then, as the Moon sets below the horizon at 5.10am.
For Americans, the Earth's shadow will start to cover the Moon at 10.28pm Eastern Time on May 15.
Then the total eclipse will begin at 11.29pm the same day.
The peak of the eclipse will be at 12.11am on May 16.
And the totality will last until 12:53am.
Lunar eclipse dates
Here are the best Blood Moons to look out for up until 2030, according to Nasa:
- Total Lunar Eclipse – May 16, 2022
- Total Lunar Eclipse – November 8, 2022
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – May 5, 2023
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – October 28, 2023
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – March 25, 2024
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – September 18, 2024
- Total Lunar Eclipse – March 14, 2025
- Total Lunar Eclipse – September 7, 2025
- Total Lunar Eclipse – March 3, 2026
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – August 28, 2026
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – February 20, 2027
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – July 18, 2027
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – August 17, 2027
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – January 12, 2028
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – July 6, 2028
- Total Lunar Eclipse – December 31, 2028
- Total Lunar Eclipse – June 26, 2029
- Total Lunar Eclipse – December 20, 2029
- Partial Lunar Eclipse – June 15, 2030
- Penumbral Lunar Eclipse – December 9, 2030
The 2025, 2026, 2028 and 2029 total lunar eclipses won't qualify as super moons.
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There are no total lunar eclipses in 2023 and 2024.
And the same is true for 2027.
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Featured Image Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
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