ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — If you take a moment to look up at the night sky this coming Sunday, you'll get to witness a total lunar eclipse!
Let's break down what exactly you'll be witnessing.
What is a lunar eclipse?
A total lunar eclipse occurs when all of the moon moves into Earth's shadow. This phenomenon occurs only when the Earth, moon and sun are exactly aligned with Earth between the other two. This also only happens during full moons.
Did you know that every full moon has a name? May's full moon is named "Flower moon," which lines up with the spring bloom across the Northern Hemisphere.
When will you see it?
Keep your eyes peeled between 10:27 p.m. Sunday night to 1:55 a.m. early Monday morning.
The partial eclipse, when the moon starts to enter Earth's Penumbra or the outer part of Earth's shadow, will begin at 10:27 p.m. The moon will start to dim and eventually part of it will turn dark as the shadow covers the moon.
Total eclipse, when the moon is now completely in Earth's umbra (darkest shadow) starts at 11:29 p.m.
This is when the fun starts! The moon in the darkest shadow will cause it to turn an orangish-red tint. The best way to see this will be with a telescope or binoculars will also work well.
And finally, the maximum eclipse will be at 12:11 a.m. This will be the peak of the eclipse with the moon in the middle of passing through Earth's shadow.
As the reddish color fades, that's a sign of the total eclipse ending, which will happen at 12:53 a.m. The moon will then return back to the partial eclipse phase with part of the moon being dark.
Finally, the moon will turn back to a normal white color as Earth's shadow no longer covers the moon, marking the end of the partial eclipse at 1:55 a.m.
Who will be able to see it?
All of South America, Central America and the eastern half of North America will have a great view of the total lunar eclipse. That includes the eastern half of the United States. The one remaining factor will be the weather and more specifically the cloud cover.
The weather is looking fantastic! Skies will be mostly clear across most of Florida. Below is a model forecast for the clouds Sunday night into the early morning hours Monday. Notice it's just a few clouds passing through from time to time. No major cloud decks around to block the sky for a long period of time. Temperatures will be comfortable in the 60s and 70s.
How common is a lunar eclipse?
The last total lunar eclipse happened a year ago May 26, 2021. Sunday night's total lunar eclipse will not be the last opportunity to see one with another one coming the night of Nov. 7.