The second and last supermoon of 2021 occurs on Wednesday, May 26. It coincides with a total lunar eclipse in some areas. Here’s what you need to know about this flower and blood moon and how to catch the best view.
Flower Moon, Supermoon: Best Viewing Tips
Those hoping to catch a great view of the supermoon are in luck this year, as the moon will be its brightest and the night sky will be its darkest.
A “super” moon occurs when its monthly orbit reaches a perigee, the point of orbit in which a moon or satellite is at its nearest to the Earth.
On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, the second of this year’s two supermoons will reach its brightest illumination. The moon will peak at 7:14 AM EDT/4:14 AM PDT. The moon will be very close to or below the horizon at that time, so look for a spot for viewing where the horizon line is unobstructed.
The best way to figure out how and when to see the moon is by using the moonrise and moonset calculator by The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Total Lunar Eclipse: How to See the Blood Moon
Wednesday will also bring a total lunar eclipse. Unlike solar eclipses, it’s safe to view lunar eclipses with the naked eye. During a total lunar eclipse, the moon becomes completely obscured by the Earth’s shadow. This creates a reddish hue, which is why it is referred to as the “blood moon.”
The eclipse begins when the moon enters the outer edge of the Earth’s shadow (the penumbra) at 1:46 A.M. PDT, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. It will reach the darkest part of the shadow (the umbra) at 2:45 A.M. PDT. The total eclipse will last roughly 15 minutes, from 4:11 AM PDT to 4:26 AM PDT.
The best viewing will be found in the Western states, Hawaii and Alaska, according to NASA. For those living in the eastern half of the US, the best viewing of the lunar eclipse will occur during dawn twilight, PIX 11 reports.
If you don’t live in an area that will have optimal viewing, check out the Virtual Telescope Project which will have a live feed beginning at 3 AM PDT on May 26.
“You may be able to observe the first part of the eclipse as the Moon just starts to darken,” NASA said in a statement, “but the Moon will be near or on the horizon as Earth’s shadow begins to cover it.”
What Is a Supermoon?
The term supermoon, was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, defined as a point in which the moon comes within 90% of its closest approach to Earth. This would be a range within 224,791 miles or 361,766 km (or less) of our planet, according to Earthsky.org.
May’s supermoon will be roughly 220,000 miles away from the Earth on Wednesday, ABC reported.
Why Is It Called a Flower Moon?
Many of the names given to different monthly moans throughout the year originated from Native American, colonial American, or European saints, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
During the month of May, it was a time when flowers were blooming in spring. The Native American Algonquin peoples were said to have used the name “flower moon” to describe the full moon in May.
Blood Moon Myths
Many ancient civilizations had myths regarding the “blood moon.” The blood moon has been associated with threats or ill fortune. Even the Bible makes references to blood moons in both the Old and New Testaments. However, not all myths are bad. Islamic tradition views the blood moon eclipse as a time for deep respect for Allah. Prayer is encouraged during a lunar eclipse, asking for forgiveness while praising Allah’s greatness, according to The Conversation.
A blood moon could be a good time for self-care for yourself or loved ones, such as looking into inpatient alcohol rehab centers.