Have you heard we’re in for a rare celestial treat this week? The whisperings are true: Tomorrow in the early morning, a supermoon will coincide with a total lunar eclipse, joining to form what has been dubbed a Super Flower Blood Moon. That’s right — multiple moon phenomena, occurring concurrently!
The show is expected to start around 4:47 a.m. Eastern Time on May 26, when the supermoon — a full moon that’s at its closest point to Earth, resulting in a larger-than-usual appearance — begins to enter Earth’s outer shadow. For a while, the moon will remain in this outer shadow, where it will begin to take on a reddish hue as sunlight refracts off Earth’s rim onto the moon’s surface. By 7:11 a.m., it will be total lunar-eclipse time. As the moon plunges fully into Earth’s inner shadow, its surface will become a rich red, living up to its Blood Moon name. By 7:25 a.m., the show will be over.
How lucky we are to have another opportunity to gaze reverentially at our big beautiful moon while she truly goes off! Your location will determine exactly how much of her glory you can observe. While we will all be able to admire the supermoon, only those across the Pacific Rim will see the moon take on her signature bloody tint. (If you wake up early enough, though, you can watch a livestream of the spectacle hosted by the Griffith Observatory.)
And why “Flower Moon”? Apparently, that’s just the name given to full moons that occur in May. (Full moons occur roughly every 29.5 days, and every month has its own distinct name for the phenomenon, a convention attributed to Algonquin tribes; for example, a full moon that occurs in June is a Strawberry Moon.) In fact, some astronomers think it’s silly that we use this naming convention when discussing major moon events, a tendency that Edwin Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory, believes is “strictly a product of the internet age.”
But as Krupp conceded to the New York Times, “I have no quarrel with the digital age bringing attention to things that would pass by without notice.” Could not agree more. How could you miss a spectacle with such an evocative name as Super Flower Blood Moon?