This weekend, the Moon will plunge into total darkness, creating a celestial spectacle not seen in a while. On Sunday night into Monday morning, there will be a total lunar eclipse — the first of 2022. The total eclipse will be visible from parts of South and North America, Antarctica, Europe, Africa, and the east Pacific. A total lunar eclipse is sometimes referred to as a “Blood Moon” because the Moon appears dark red at the peak of the eclipse. However, this weekend’s total lunar eclipse will not be visible in India.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon all align, causing the Moon to pass into the shadow of the Earth. During a total lunar eclipse, the entire Moon is engulfed in the darkest part of Earth’s shadow, known as the umbra.
Though the eclipse will not be visible in India, those interested can watch a live-stream of the event on NASA. From 11 p.m. ET on May 15 to 12 a.m. ET on May 16, ET, which is 8.33 a.m. IST on Monday (May 16), the space agency will live-stream the eclipse, with experts commenting on each step of the process.
The eclipse will last more than five hours, beginning at 9:32 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 15, (7.02 a.m. IST on Monday) and ending at 2:50 a.m. EDT on May 16 (12.20 p.m. IST on May 16).
During totality, the colour of the Blood Moon can range from a bright saffron yellow disc with a blue-tinged limb to a dark brick red. The Moon has been known to nearly disappear from view during totality, as happened during the December 1992 lunar eclipse, shortly after Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines.
The Danjon Scale, which ranges from 4 (bright) to 0 (dark), is used to describe the colour and intensity of the Moon during totality (dark).
Another unusual sight to look for during a total lunar eclipse is the elusive selenelion, or seeing the completely eclipsed Moon and the rising Sun above the horizon at the same time. This works because the Earth’s umbra is larger than the Moon’s, and the atmosphere of the Earth refracts light from both.