The first of the two total lunar eclipses of 2022 is happening this weekend. In the night between May 15 and 16, our natural satellite will cross the Earth’s shadow, slowly getting darker until it acquires the characteristic red color.
For this reason, in English-speaking countries, it is called the Blood Moon and the coloring is due to the Earth’s atmosphere refracting red sunlight on the shadowed Moon. The Moon will also be close to its perigee, the closest distance to Earth in its elliptical orbit, which means it will be larger than average, which is commonly known as a supermoon.
The Super Blood Moon will be visible in its totality in most of North and Central America, all of South America, and all of Antarctica. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa will see the initial phases of the eclipse, with the western-most regions being able to see totality begin before the Moon sets below the horizon, red like the setting Sun.
In the Pacific, the northwest of North America and Polynesian countries will instead see the dawn of the eclipsed Moon as it rises during the later phases of the astronomical event. The whole spectacle will last over five hours – 318 minutes and 40 seconds to be exact. Totality will last 84 minutes and 53 seconds, and the northern tip of the Moon will pass close to the center of Earth’s shadow, so the expectation is that it will be quite a dark eclipse.
The Moon first crosses the penumbra, the partially-illuminated region around Earth’s shadow at 9:30 pm ET. Our satellite will enter the full shadow about an hour later, when the partial eclipse begins. People will have to wait for another hour before the full spectacle of the total eclipse begins at 11:30 pm on May 15. It will reach its maximum darkness about 42 minutes later, and will end at 00.53 am ET. The Moon will take another hour to completely come out of Earth’s shadow, and another hour still before it is also out of the penumbra.
If you are not where the total or partial eclipse will be visible or if the sky is overcast or if you just would rather see it from the comfort of your sofa, worry not. You can watch it stream live online thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project.
If you miss this one, don't worry. The next one will be on November 8, 2022, visible across the Pacific. After that, we'll have to wait for March 14, 2025.