Over two years since the last total lunar eclipse in January 2019, we can finally look forward to another one of these eye-catching phenomenons. Here's everything to know about the upcoming "super flower blood moon."
On Wednesday, May 26, 2021, some lucky observers will see the first total lunar eclipse since 2019. Those residing in western North America, southern South America, and the Hawaiian Islands can catch the event early Wednesday morning, while people in Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of Southeast Asia will see it in the evening.
A lunar eclipse takes place when planet Earth comes between the sun and the moon, effectively blocking the sun's direct rays from lighting up the moon. But, as those who have witnessed the event likely know, our favorite natural satellite won't become completely dark. The sun's blocked light will disperse in the atmosphere and turn the moon blood-red for about 14 minutes.
And this won't be your standard lunar eclipse. May 26 will also bring the largest full moon this year. And the eclipse will occur a couple of hours after the moon is in perigee, its closest point to Earth on its orbit, meaning the satellite will look bigger than it usually does to observers. Because of the moon's size and predicted red color, this specific lunar eclipse is commonly called the "super flower blood moon" eclipse.
So, where does the "flower" part of the nickname come from? The fifth full moon of the year, appearing in May, derived its moniker from Native American traditions. "The Maine Farmer's Almanac first published [Native American] names for the full moons in the 1930s," explained Gordon Johnston, Program Executive at NASA HQ.
Johnston continued, "According to this almanac, as the full moon in May and the second full moon of spring, the Algonquin tribes of what is now the northeastern United States called this the Flower Moon, for the flowers that are abundant this time of year." Hence, this phenomenon's special nickname of "super flower blood moon" eclipse. So if you're in any of the locations lucky enough to get a glimpse of the gorgeous event - get your binoculars ready, and don't miss out!