The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26

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The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
Red blood moonNASA
  • Three celestial events will be visible in the night sky tomorrow, May 26.
  • The total lunar eclipse will be accompanied by a Supermoon and Blood Moon as the Sun takes a back seat during the show.
  • While these three events will occur concurrently, each is unique and has its characteristics.
Not only will May 26 bear witness to the year’s first lunar eclipse, but it will also coincide with a Supermoon and Blood Moon. This means that the Moon will be bigger and redder than its normal size and colour as the Earth tries to block out the Sun this week.

And, it’s not just any ordinary lunar eclipse that’s on the cards. After two long years of waiting, the world will finally have a front row seat to a ‘total’ lunar eclipse. And skygazers in India might have the best view.

The lunar eclipse is set to kick off in the middle of the afternoon, at 2:17 p.m., as per Indian Standard Time (IST). And it will be over by 7:19 p.m. A few lucky ones may be able to catch the last 10 to 20 minutes of the action.

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The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
The timeline of the total lunar eclipse set to take place on May 26NASA

But that’s no reason to fret. Technology has made it so easy to just tap into one of the many live streams that will be live during the event from telescopes all over the world. So, not only will you be able to see the total lunar eclipse, but you’ll have a close-up view.

What is a lunar eclipse?



A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth blocks out the light of the Sun and casts its shadow on the Moon’s surface. And this can only happen on a night when there’s a Full Moon in the sky.
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During a partial eclipse, Earth is not able to block out the entire Sun. Only the darkest part of the planet’s shadow falls on the Moon. In other cases, when the Moon only passes through the lighter party of the Earth’s shadow, it is called a penumbral eclipse.

The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
A total lunar eclipse when the Earth's complete shadow fall onto the MoonNASA

However, on May 26, a total lunar eclipse is set to grace the skies. The Moon will fully be in Earth’s shadow.

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FUN FACT:

Earth is one of the few planets in the solar system to experience lunar eclipses because its shadow is just large enough to cover the moon.


What is a Blood Moon?


A Blood Moon appears only during a total lunar eclipse. This means that not every lunar eclipse will result in a Blood Moon.

For Earth’s natural satellite to turn a shade of red or rusty orange, the Moon needs to fully be within its shadow. Only a little bit of light is able to escape the shadow, and as the light waves are stretched, they begin to look red.
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When this red light strikes the lunar surface, it makes the Moon look red too.

The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
Blood Moons only occure during a total lunar eclipseNASA

How red the Moon will look from where you are in the world depends on a number of factors like pollution, cloud cover or debris.

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The last Blood Moon occured on 21 January 2019, during the total lunar eclipse, earning it the title of ‘Super Blood Wolf Moon’.

Hopefully, we will not have to wait another two years to see the next Blood Moon. According to NASA, the next one is set to take place on 16 May 2022 — less than a year from now. The only catch is that it will likely be visible only over North America, South America, Europe and Africa — not Asia, or anywhere near India.

FUN FACT:

Christoper Columbus used the Blood Moon to his advantage in 1504 when he was stranded in Jamaica. The natives halted the food supply for him and his crew. So, he looked up the next total lunar eclipse, and told the leader of the natives that God’s anger will be visible on February 29 with the Moon appearing to be ‘inflamed in wrath’.


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What is a Supermoon?


Just like a lunar eclipse, the Supermoon needs a Full Moon in the sky in order to make an appearance.

It occurs when a Full Moon occurs at the time as the Moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit. Simply put, a Supermoon is when the distance between the Moon and our planet is at its minimum — their closest point.

The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time the Moon is fullNASA

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The Moon will be bigger and redder as three celestial events line up at the same time on May 26
The Moon has an eliptical orbit around the EarthNASA

Because of the increase in proximity, a Supermoon appears brighter and a little bigger in the night sky. The difference isn’t obvious enough for the casual observer to spot, but a seasoned skygazer would be aware of the change.

The total lunar eclipse on May 26 won’t just be like any other Supermoon — there are at least two this year according to the Farmer’s Almanac — but the closest Supermoon of the year.


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