Blood moon

Super Flower Blood Moon: 5 things that set it apart

The first lunar eclipse of 2021 is on the horizon.

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Moon watchers rejoice: The first lunar eclipse of 2021 will be visible on Wednesday, May 26 to people living in parts of North America, South America, Asia, and Australia.

This is a total lunar eclipse — when the Earth sits directly between the Sun and the Moon. The Moon will darken and turn red as light from the Sun bends around Earth. But a few things set this eclipse apart...

Here are 5 things you need to know about the May 26 total lunar eclipse.

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1. It’s the first total lunar eclipse in two years

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There were a few partial and penumbral lunar eclipses in 2020, but the last total lunar eclipse was January 21, 2019.

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2. It’s also a Supermoon

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After a long wait, this total eclipse also coincides with another big lunar event: a Supermoon. In fact, this event has the auspicious title of Super Flower Blood Moon.

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The Moon will be at the closest point in its orbit to Earth during the eclipse, so it will appear larger and brighter than usual — a Supermoon. “Flower Moon” is the nickname given to the May full Moon.

So putting all these elements together — proximity, color, and month — this is a Super Flower Blood Moon.

3. It will be shorter than usual

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A supermoon eclipse will be short but sweet. Because the Earth and Moon are so close, the Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow more quickly, making the eclipse’s totality only 15 minutes long. (The total eclipse in January 2019 lasted a little more than an hour.)

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4. It’s one of two lunar eclipses this year

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Don’t be too upset if you can’t catch the show on May 26. The next lunar eclipse is right around the corner, on November 18.

The November eclipse won’t be total like the one in May, but rather, 97 percent of the Moon will be covered in shadow. So it will be close.

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5. It will be easiest to see in Australia

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Australia, New Zealand, and Hawaii are the best places to see the entire eclipse unless you happen to live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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In North America, you’ll have a better view the further west you are. The Moon enters the edge of the Earth’s shadow, the penumbra, at 4:47 a.m. EDT and the darker umbra at 5:45 a.m.

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The Sun will rise on the East Coast before the total eclipse begins, but the West Coast will have an excellent view of the totality starting at 4:11 a.m. Pacific.

You can see your chances of catching the total lunar eclipse here.

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Read more stories on astronomy here.

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