Skygazers will be treated to a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday, May 26, when the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow and it’ll appear particularly large and reddish in color.
The so-called Super Blood Moon will slowly darken over a few hours as it travels through different parts of Earth’s shadow: traveling through the penumbra, where it’ll be partially obscured, then through its umbra, where it’ll be completely covered.
The best time to start watching the Moon change is at 0944 UTC (0244 PT, 1944 AEST) though if you only want to see the maximum eclipse part then set your alarms for 1118 UTC (0418 PT, 2118 AEST). By about 1252 UTC (0552 PT, 2252 AEST), the Moon will have exited Earth’s shadow.
The event will only be visible to viewers on the west side of the US, Canada, and Mexico in North America; most of Central America; and Ecuador, western Peru, southern Chile, and Argentina in South America, during the early hours of the morning when the Moon sets.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, the total eclipse will strike across East Asia and parts of Australia during the late afternoon and early evening when the Moon begins to rise. People watching in other parts of the Americas and Asia-Pacific will only glimpse a partial lunar eclipse. Those in Europe and Africa, meanwhile, won’t get to see the Moon changing color at all, although it will still appear brighter and larger than normal.
Don't worry if you can't watch it for various reasons. There will be multiple livestreams of the total lunar eclipse on the good ol' internet, thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project, the European Space Agency, the Griffth Observatory, and the Lowell Observatory.
Blood Moons are bathed in a red-orange rust color when the Earth sits directly in between the Sun and the Moon. Our planet blocks most of the solar rays, and any light that makes it through is filtered by Earth’s atmosphere. Longer wavelengths in the red portion of the electromagnetic spectrum are scattered less than shorter blue-end wavelengths, leading to the Moon being illuminated with a reddish light.
Here’s a video explanation from NASA...
The total lunar eclipse also coincides at a time when the natural satellite also happens to be pretty much at its nearest distance to Earth. On Wednesday, it will be just 357,311 kilometres away, making it look bigger and brighter in the sky, often referred to as a Super Moon.
Total lunar eclipses aren't super rare; the last one occurred in 2019. Super Moons are also pretty common. The chances to see two of them together, however, are few and far between. ®